Our Balance System
Balance is such an important part of our lives. It’s the mechanism that allows us to stand, walk, move around our homes and walk up and down steps. Good balance is needed when you are walking across a lawn, getting into a shower or getting out of a vehicle.
Balance is so important that we often take it for granted. We just assume it will always be there. We forget that our balance system is constantly trying to work on our behalf.
Loss of Good Balance
If we begin to have balance isssues it really can have a dramatic impact on our lives. Loss of balance can cause dizziness, unsteadiness and even falls. Balance issues can cause dizziness (to the point of nausea) when you stand up quickly or turn your head.
One of the big concerns with balance problems in the senior population is the increased incidence of falls.
When falls occur (especially in seniors) the occurrence of injuries increases substantially. Falls can cause trauma to the head, broken bones, lacerations and bruises and injuries to muscles.
This is the reason why therapists often focus on improving balance in the adult populations. They know that poor balance can lead to a number of more complicated problems.
What Can Cause Dizziness or Loss of Balance?
There are many causes of dizziness and balance disorders and it can happen at any stage of life. However, as we age, there are many factors that can increase our chance for dizziness. Our bodies have multiple systems that work together to influence our ability to balance. If one or more of those systems stops working properly, balance problems can occur.
The Inner Ears
Deep within your ears is a fluid filled chamber that sends feedback to your brain. These chambers (like a carpenters level) tell the brain when your head is rotated, tilted, moving or still. However, if that system becomes problematic, it can send abnormal signals to the brain. This condition is called Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV). This is one of the most common causes of dizziness and can often be treated effectively with physical therapy.
Your Blood Pressure
Those who have issues with balance (especially when going from a seated to standing position) may want to discuss their blood pressure with their doctor. In some instances, too high or too low of blood pressure can cause a person to feel dizzy.
Those who are taking medications should speak with their doctors about dizziness. Some medications can have a side effect of causing dizziness. Others combinations of medications can also be responsible for some forms of dizziness.
The portion of the brain called the cerebellum plays a big role in your ability to balance. Those with cerebellar disorders can also have problems with balance. A visit with your doctor can help to understand better and rule out any problems with your cerebellum.
One area that is often overlooked when it comes to dizziness issues are the eyes. The eyes play an important role in your ability to balance. The eyes send positional feedback to the brain and without them working properly, dizziness and balance problems can insue.
Throughout your body, but especially in your feet, there are sensors called proprioceptors. These receptors are located in joints and muscles and send constant feedback to the brain about your postions and movements. These can become dysfunctional, but can often be improved with therapy.
What if you Need Balance Therapy?
If you have been diagnosed with a vestibular balance disorder, it may be necessary to receive balance therapy (vestibular therapy) to help to resolve your problem. Our physical therapy team at Strides Maplewood is available for your treatment.
Call us at 608-643-3383 to schedule your treatment with us today.