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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Can Osteoarthritis of the Spine and Neck Cause Gait Disorder?

12/17/2007

Question:

Can osteoarthritis of the spine and neck cause a gait disorder? Would the person walk stifly with the legs wide apart? Could this be caused by fluid buildup on the brain?

Answer:

No. Osteoarthritis does not cause a neurologic movement disorder. Osteoarthritis (OA) may lead to joint changes that affect gait. Advanced OA changes of the hip will limit the amount of flexion or extension of the hip joint. This may cause the individual to swing their leg forward while walking. OA at the knee is more likely to asymmetrically affect the medial (inner) compartment of the knee joint more than the lateral (outer) compartment. Advanced asymmetric involvement in this distribution may lead to a bow-legged anatomic change. Neither of these changes would contribute to a wide-based gait. OA does not cause "fluid buildup on the brain."

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University