Overall, people tend to take their balance for granted.
Aside from navigating slippery sidewalks in the winter, or that tricky, rocky part on your favorite hike, you might not think about your balance very much.
So, when your balance starts to falter, you may be worried about what that means for your ability to function independently in society and how it will affect your day to day activities.
However, there are a number of different factors that can contribute to poor balance.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Balance Issues?
Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or as though the room is spinning can be one cause of poor balance.
These symptoms can happen regardless of whether you’re sitting, standing, or even lying down, as they don’t necessarily mean you’re actually about to fall over or lose your balance – they might just give you that perception.
Sometimes these symptoms can be related to your circulatory system or your vestibular system, which is located in your inner ear.
Changes in vision can also influence your balance, meaning your balance gets worse in darker or busier environments.
Sensation changes in your feet, like can happen with diabetes, circulation issues, medication use, or nerve injuries can also worsen balance.
This is because it impairs your body’s ability to tell your brain where it is, making it easier to trip.
Lastly, balance can be impacted by how quickly and accurately your body is able to respond to a stimulus – whether expected or unexpected.
What Causes Balance Issues?
There are a number of conditions which can cause balance issues.
Let’s have a look at a few of them now – keep reading to learn more.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is a condition which occurs when calcium crystals, which form naturally in the inner ear shift out of place.
The role of these crystals is to help maintain your balance and make you sensitive to gravity.
Some of the known causes of benign paroxysmal position vertigo include traumatic brain injury.
This can be true of both milder traumatic brain injuries like concussions and more serious ones – in either case, it can cause damage to your inner ear.
However, in many cases the cause is unknown.
Symptoms of BPPV include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and a sense that things are spinning.
More severe symptoms can include:
- Severe headache
- Weakness of the leg or arm
- Decreased level of consciousness
- Loss of hearing
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of vision, or double vision
Any of the above symptoms, paired with vertigo or dizziness, means you should see a vestibular physical therapist right away.
Here at Capitol Physical Therapy, we offer physical therapy treatments for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, as well as medical screening to know when it’s necessary to refer you to a physician.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic illness affecting the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
It results in poor communication from your brain to the rest of the body and can lead to damage and deterioration of nerves.
Due to these communication challenges, it can result in poor balance, vertigo, and trouble walking.
Other symptoms include:
- Trouble speaking and swallowing
- Tiredness, even after a full night’s sleep
- Sexual issues, such as trouble orgasming
- Memory issues
- Mental health difficulties, like depression
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries are injuries which affects brain function.
This can include injuries due to a fall, car crash, or other sudden blow or jolt to the head, which results in the brain moving back and forth inside the skull, resulting in damage such as a contusion or bruise.
You may be familiar with concussions, a milder traumatic brain injury, but more serious ones are possible as well.
Symptoms of brain injuries can include poor balance, and trouble standing and walking.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition which is caused by a loss of nerve cells, resulting in low levels of dopamine being produced.
This lack of dopamine affects a number of areas including mood, executive functioning, and movement.
The cause of Parkinson’s is not known; however risk factors include sex (men are more likely to develop than women), age, and family history of the disease.
Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s which can affect balance include:
- Slowed or delayed movements
- Tremors (shaking) in the hands or feet
- Trouble walking
- Poor coordination
The vestibular system is responsible for helping you know where your head is in space.
A system of tubes within your inner ears, this system gives your brain information on how your head moves, and is responsible for balance, posture, tracking things with your eyes even with your body in motion, and stability.
Issues connected to the vestibular system include:
- Blurred vision
- Motion sickness
- Light sensitivity
- Stiff neck
- Trouble focusing
Causes of vestibular disorders include:
- Ear infections
- Traumatic brain injury
- Certain medications
- Inner ear problems
Other conditions which can result in poor balance include:
- Persistent postural perceptual dizziness
- Meniere’s disease
- Ramsay Hunt syndrome
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Are you dealing with vertigo after experiencing an ear infection?
Or lingering feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness due to a head injury?
Or maybe you’re worried about an elderly parent with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis and are looking to find ways to help them manage their symptoms or prevent falls?
We’re Capitol Physical Therapy, and we can help.
Contact us today for more information or to set up a consultation.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC