Gait patterns associated with thyroid function: The Rotterdam Study

One of the useful aspects of seeing gait and thyroid related is that there have been many studies of gait which have used computerised analysis (e.g. of video or of weight sensors under walking surfaces). Maybe some of these could translate to being implemented on what is now very basic equipment - like a smartphone?

I am always looking for simple but clear things that could be analysed and measured to indicate not only thyroid, but many other disorders.

Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 14;6:38912. doi: 10.1038/srep38912.

Gait patterns associated with thyroid function: The Rotterdam Study.

Bano A1,2,3, Chaker L1,2,3,4, Darweesh SK3,4, Korevaar TI1,2, Mattace-Raso FU1,5, Dehghan A3, Franco OH3, van der Geest JN6, Ikram MA3,7,8, Peeters RP1,2,3.

Author information

1Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

2Rotterdam Thyroid Center, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

3Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

4Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

5Section of Geriatric Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

6Department of Neuroscience, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

7Department of Neurology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

8Department of Radiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Gait is an important health indicator and poor gait is strongly associated with disability and risk of falls. Thyroid dysfunction is suggested as a potential determinant of gait deterioration, but this has not been explored in a population-based study. We therefore investigated the association of thyroid function with gait patterns in 2645 participants from the Rotterdam Study with data available on TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), FT4 (free thyroxine) and gait, without known thyroid disease or dementia. The primary outcome was Global gait (standardized Z-score), while secondary outcomes included gait domains (Rhythm, Variability, Phases, Pace, Base of support, Tandem, Turning) and velocity. Gait was assessed by electronic walkway. Multivariable regression models revealed an inverted U-shaped association of TSH (p < 0.001), but no association of FT4 concentrations with Global gait (p = 0.2). TSH levels were positively associated with Base of support (p = 0.01) and followed an inverted U-shaped curve with Tandem (p = 0.002) and velocity (p = 0.02). Clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism were associated with worse Global gait than euthyroidism (β = -0.61; CI = -1.03, -0.18; p = 0.004 and β = -0.13; CI = -0.26, -0.00; p = 0.04, respectively). In euthyroid participants, higher thyroid function was associated with worse gait patterns. In conclusion, both low and high thyroid function are associated with alterations in Global gait, Tandem, Base of support and velocity.

PMID: 27966590

DOI: 10.1038/srep38912

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/279...

11 Replies

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  • Very interesting i hope more study is forthcoming on how movement and coordination become abnormal .

    I wonder if T3 levels might be significant, do they affect reaction times and coordination? I imagine it is quite complex moving naturally although we never much think about it till it all starts going wrong. I became very clumsy, moved like a snail and nothing felt smooth or automatic anymore as I became more unwell. I would totally misjudge my personal space and walk into people I was intending to pass by on the pavement - very embarrassing. I had to stop cycling because I did not feel safe and I often felt unsteady on the pins.

  • Certainly seems to tally with my experience. Count the broken crockery...

  • helvella

    Ha ha me too - I was smashing plates cups bowls etc like I was at a Greek wedding! I had completely forgotten about all the crockery I trashed.

  • Ankle stiffness, particularly in the morning, is a hypoT symptom, found also in rheumatoid arthritis. I've had some deep temperature drops recently, and am aware I could endanger myself, stumbling about. My gait has been a source of amusement to others throughout my life, and thereby quite a sap of my confidence.

  • Know what you mean about source of amusement - though for me I think it simply ungainly. Feet naturally splayed. Odd shaped feet. It is mostly in the dim and distant but I still hate when I know people are positively watching me walk.

  • Didnt link it at the time but awkward gait, misjudging distance as above was me .

    Feel more in charge of direction when walking now with improvement of thyroid meds🙂

  • The endo I saw noted some liver damage and put it down to alcohol! My gait and balance is better now if still not perfect. Before on levo.I was bumping into my wife whilst walking and could not walk down the garden steps without a stick.

  • helvella, I am wondering if gait is also vitamin D connected, as when I mentioned to my Doctor I felt like I was walking bow legged (gait legged) and couldn't stride along as I did before, my Doctor tested me for vitamin D deficiency, once on my prescribed (doctor said - very high,) dose of 1000iu, (though I soon went onto my own 5000iu of D3) soon after I was walking normally again, vitamin D often goes hand in hand with low thyroid. Also my Father, now passed, stayed indoors much of the time (away from the sun,) with his illness and he too had a prominent gait, which could have been down to vitamin D deficiency.

  • Interesting! I have been know to walk into door jambs but don't now but changed to NDT. I also would get up quickly from the settee and turn to go along the side of the arm towards the back but fall over the arm so not walking where I intended. Put that down as always being in a hurry. Having said thstcthough new hip Dec 2009 and second Jan 2026 do that may be cloud the issue but walking into door jams or not may well corolate with NDT!

  • I notice this a lot at the moment. I've been walking with a stick sometimes, but I think it ends up unbalancing me. So now I often notice my hips are in a strange alignment. Sometimes one leg seems to be doing all the work, and the other one is barely moving in the hip socket. If I have the energy to do a few big strides, it gets everything lined up better, I think walking slowly doesn't give the hips/spine/shoulders as much help in lining up as they should.

  • I am very, very light on my feet and recognise the stiff ankles too. I have beautiful cups I just won't use as I have broken so many in the past and know my clumsiness and stiffness is quite bad at the moment. Turning quickly gives me a head whoosh too which doesn't help.

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