Unsteady Gait
Unsteady gait is a problem with walking in a coordinated manner maintaining postural control. Unsteady when walking, unstable when walking, uns...

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What Is Unsteady Gait?

Unsteady gait is a problem with walking in a coordinated manner maintaining postural control.

Alternative Names

Unsteady when walking, unstable when walking, unstable gait, instability of gait, disequibrilium when walking, disequilibrium when walking.


Unsteady gait is a symptom of instability while walking. Problems with walking can be due to disease or injury to the legs, feet, spine, or brain. Unsteady gait may be a direct effect of medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, be due to a balance problem due to a problem caused by a metabolic disorder, stroke or other brain disorder, or represent a balance problem due to an injury or disease of the inner ear.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Trauma
  • Foot problems
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Epilepsy
  • Middle ear infection
  • Decompression sickness
  • Arterial air embolism
  • Hypothermia
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Head injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Brain tumor
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Neurofibromatosis 2
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Partial seizures
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seizures
  • Snake bites
  • Tay-Sachs Disease
  • Tetanus
  • Side effects of medications
  • Vertebrobasilar insufficiency
  • Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome
  • Huntington’s chorea
  • Restless legs syndrome

Diagnosis and Treatment

A thorough evaluation by a physician is required for unsteady gait and referral to a specialist will likely be needed. A complete history and physical will be required as well as a number of diagnostic and laboratory studies. The treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

Call your provider:

Whenever someone is manifesting signs of unsteady gait. It may be an indication of a serious medical or psychiatric problem.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Published: Nov 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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