What is a balance disorder?
A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting, or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning, or floating. If you are walking, you might suddenly feel as if you are tipping over.
Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the term "dizziness" can mean different things to different people. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of faintness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning (vertigo) that lasts a long time.
Experts believe that more than 4 out of 10 Americans, sometime in their lives, will experience an episode of dizziness significant enough to send them to a doctor. Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, a problem in the inner ear, or the brain. A balance disorder can profoundly impact daily activities and cause psychological and emotional hardship.
What are the symptoms of a balance disorder?
If you have a balance disorder, you may stagger when you try to walk, or teeter or fall when you try to stand up. You might experience other symptoms such as:
- Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation)
- Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall
- Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or disorientation.
Other symptoms might include nausea and vomiting, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and fear, anxiety, or panic.
Symptoms may come and go over short time periods or last for a long time, and can lead to fatigue and depression.
What causes balance disorders?
There are many causes of balance problems, such as medications, ear infections, a head injury, or anything else that affects the inner ear or brain. Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness when you stand up too quickly. Problems that affect the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, can also cause balance disorders. Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older.
Unfortunately, many balance disorders start suddenly and with no obvious cause.
Common Diagnoses We Treat Include:
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Age-Related Balance Dysfunction
- Oculomotor (Visual) Dysfunction
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Ménière's Disease
- Vestibular Neuronitis
- Muscle Atrophy
- Nerve Injuries
Treatment for Balance Disorders
There are more than a dozen causes of dizziness and many reasons why you might have difficulty with your balance.
Treatment of balance & dizziness disorders can be very complex. Nevertheless, we have helped numerous individuals in the community cope with or recover from conditions that cause balance disorders.
The first thing your doctor will do if you have a balance problem is determine if another health condition or a medication is to blame. If so, your doctor will treat the condition, suggest a different medication, or in many cases, refer you to one of our balance disorder experts here at Grey Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center.
Risk factors associated with falls:
- Older age
- Muscle weakness
- A history of falls
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, stroke, walking problems, and/or fear of falling.
How Our Physical Therapists Can Help
Physical therapist directed treatment can assist patients with balance disorders in a number of ways. As experts in the evaluation and treatment of movement, muscle, joint, and nervous system disorders, our physical therapists can prescribe and implement a variety of treatments including:
- Coordination Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Stretching and Range of Motion Exercises
- Posture Exercises
- Retraining of the Inner Ear
- Visual Tracking Training
Positional Vertigo - A Common Cause of Dizziness & Balance Disorders
If you have BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), our vestibular therapy experts can perform a series of simple movements, such as the Epley maneuver, which can help dislodge the otoconia (calcium crystals) from the semicircular canal of the ear. In many cases, one session works; other people need the procedure several times to relieve their dizziness.
Call us today to learn more about how we can develop a personalized treatment program for your balance problems and help you get back to enjoying a higher quality of life.
Headaches come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s take a closer look at what you might not know about them. Headache or head pain sometimes can be described as throbbing, squeezing, constant, unrelenting, or intermittent. The location may be in one part of the face or skull, or may be generalized involving the whole head. The head is one of the most common sites of pain in the body and may be an acute onset or it may be chronic in nature. What are the different types of headaches? In 2013, the International Headache Society released its latest classification system for headache which is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. Head pain can be classified as being one of three types: 1) primary headache-tension, migraine and cluster, 2) secondary headache- usually a symptom of an injury or an underlying illness, and 3) cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches.
- Medication overuse headache (rebound headache) is a condition where frequent use of pain medications can lead to persistent head pain. The headache may improve for a short time after medication is taken and then recur. (The term "rebound headache" has been replaced by the term "medication overuse headache.")
Individuals should seek medical care for new onset headaches or if headaches are associated with fever, stiff neck, weakness, change in sensation on one side of the body, change in vision, vomiting, or change in behavior that may be caused by the development of serious infections.