Balance issues are typically caused by one or a combination of these three main causes…
Many different problems can be classified as a vestibular dysfunction but one of the most common vestibular disorders is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, also known as BPPV. BPPV occurs when the crystals in the inner ear travel in the semicircular canals of the inner ear, where they are not supposed to be. This creates the dizzy feeling and illusion that you’re spinning with certain movements.
Another common vestibular dysfunction can happen when the reflex that keeps your eyes stable as your head turns isn’t up to par. This reflex is called your vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). Your VOR works with the inner ear system to help keep your balance as you’re moving around.
People who have BPPV…
People who have an impaired VOR…
Peripheral neuropathy can occur for a few different reasons, for example, as a result of diabetes or an autoimmune disorder, but can have a big impact on your balance and potential risk for falls when the nerves in your feet and legs are affected. Peripheral neuropathy starts at the toes and works up the legs, typically referred to as a stocking pattern. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy typically include impaired sensation and muscle weakness which makes it increasingly difficult to keep your balance due to the decreased information your brain is getting from the nerves in your legs.
People who have peripheral neuropathy…
Joint and muscle problems can contribute to poor balance and increased fall risk. If you have shortened muscles or a joint restriction, meaning that a joint isn’t moving how it is supposed to, primarily in the low back or legs, that will limit your range of motion and could impair your balance.
Additionally, vision problems can also affect your balance and risk for falls. Most people tend to be vision dominant when it comes to their balance.
How could tight muscles or joint problems cause poor balance?
If you aren’t able to move as well as you should be able to, it will be more challenging to keep your balance and utilize your righting reaction, or your ability to catch yourself when you start to fall. When we start to lose our balance our first strategy is called our ankle strategy, meaning we use the muscles in our feet and ankles to correct our balance and we sway a little bit to keep our balance. When our ankle strategy isn’t enough then we use our hip strategy and bend at the waist to try to correct our balance. If our hip strategy isn’t enough to catch our balance then we resort to our last option, our stepping reaction where we take a step to correct our balance to stop ourselves from falling. If your joints aren’t able to move how they should, our righting reaction can be affected which makes it harder to correct our balance and keep ourselves from falling.
Why does vision play such a big role in balance?
If you find it easier to keep your balance if you stare at one single object or point in space, then you’re likely reliant on your vision to keep your balance. Your vision could be impaired for a variety of reasons including cataracts, inept eye glasses prescription, or poor lighting. If the other components of your balance aren’t up to par then it’s important to utilize your vision to its full potential to minimize the risk for falls.
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Top 3 Exercises for A Balance Dysfunction
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