No matter what your age, balance is a vital part of our daily life that is often overlooked. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “My balance is terrible but that’s normal, I’m just getting older.” No one should ever have to accept dysfunction as a “normal” part of life. As you are sitting here reading this I can tell you that there are plenty of people your age and older than you that do NOT have balance problems and that are NOT at a risk of falls. The first step in making a change in your life is finding out what is causing your problem. Once you determine the cause, you can make a plan for a solution.
Some of the main causes of balance problems are decreased strength, vestibular dysfunction, or a neurological issue. These are just a few of the sources of balance troubles and falls that we see. Many people don’t just have one issue but a combination of a few. Now answer the following questions:
Do you have a strength problem?
If you have trouble getting in and out of a chair without using your hands to help you, you likely have some weakness in your legs. If you don’t have enough strength in your legs especially, it can be very hard to perform simple daily tasks like getting on and off the couch or going up and down stairs without compensating or feeling off balance. Things can get even trickier when you add in uneven surfaces like a gravel driveway, cracked sidewalk, or simply grass. One of the most common areas of weakness we see is a poor activation of the stabilizing muscles in the hips. Weakness up at the hips leads to problems at the knees and feet that translates into poor reactive abilities and an increased risk of falling when trying traverse uneven surfaces.
Do you have a neurological problem?
One of the most common nerve problems that we see if our office are what is called peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, pricking sensations known as paresthesias, and muscle weakness. The nerves in our arms, hands, legs, and feet send information to the brain and spinal cord. They also carry signals from the brain and spinal cord out to the muscles in order to generate movement. Damage to this peripheral nervous system interferes with these connections. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of peripheral neuropathy, but not the only one. Pain and numbness are often felt in both feet followed by a gradual progression up both legs. This obviously can have a huge impact on your balance. If you are not getting accurate information from your feet it is even harder to perform tasks like walking on uneven surfaces.
Do you have a vestibular problem?
Does the room spin when you move your head too quickly? Dizziness and vertigo problems can come on quickly and put you at risk of falling. BPPV is the most common kind of vertigo and is treated quite easily by a physical therapist. But not all dizziness is BPPV and it is important to be evaluated in order to determine the source of your vestibular problem.
So do you have trouble with any of the things listed above? If so, there is a Physical Therapist in Allentown waiting to help you. So what are you waiting for?
For those of you who are looking for a little more information about Robbins Rehabilitation then check out our website Robbinsptwest.com. You’ll find valuable information on all different body parts and can keep up with our future blog posts!
If you are in the Allentown area and are ready to get started right away then do not hesitate to give us a call at 610-841-3555 and get started on the path to healing right away.
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