Balance & Gait Disorders
- Feeling a floating sensation or dizziness
- Lightheadedness (presyncope)
- Loss of balance or unsteadiness
- Sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
- Vision changes, such as blurriness
GAIT DISORDER SYMPTOMS
- Brain hemorrhage
- Brain tumor
- Joint pain
- Meniere’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Do you ever feel unsteady, as if you may fall or topple sideways without warning? Do you have trouble standing, sometimes experiencing the “spins” even when you’re standing still? Do you experience pain in your hips, knees, or other joints when you walk or move in certain ways? If so, you may be suffering from a balance or gait disorder. These disorders can be physically and mentally disrupting and can develop from various reasons. A variety of underlying musculoskeletal and neurological disorders can cause or aggravate a balance or gait problem.
Balance and gait disorders are closely related, but they do have some distinct differences.
A balance disorder is anything that causes you to feel as if you are “spinning,” or in danger of falling, even if you are sitting or standing still. Balance disorders are both physical and mental, as your brain may think you are moving, even when you are not. With balance disorders, many are related to issues in the vestibular system, which is a delicate collection of fluid-filled chambers and sensory nerves, located in the inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for your sense of position, also known as “proprioception.”
Gait disorders can cause abnormal movements to the way you walk and run, and these can become exaggerated with age. Gait problems can also appear as the result of underlying musculoskeletal problems, such as overuse injuries, abnormal foot arches, plantar fasciitis, or uneven muscle support that may make you favor one side of your body more than the other. Old injuries may also affect your gait if they never healed correctly, as the internal scar tissue may limit the range of motion in your hips, knees, or feet.
Physical therapy can provide you with the tools you need to relieve the symptoms of your balance or gait disorder, and in many cases, it can help you recover completely from your condition. Your physical therapist will conduct a comprehensive physical evaluation to examine your balance, gait, stance, medical history, and symptoms, before creating a personalized treatment plan deemed for your specific needs.
If you are suffering from a balance or gait disorder, contact Vineyard Complementary Medicine at our martha’s vineyard office to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated physical therapists. We’ll help you get back on your feet in no time!