Your ability to maintain balance as you walk, or your gait, can become compromised. Walking with balance may seem as easy as putting one foot in front of the other but actually involves multiple systems in your body. For you to maintain proper balance, your nerves, muscles, brain, ears, and eyes must be in good working condition.
If any of these systems is compromised, you may develop a balance and gait disorder that causes you to feel dizzy or unsteady. Here is a look at some of the conditions that can contribute to Pearland balance disorder and gait problems.
Problems with the Vestibular System
Vestibular problems are the most common cause of balance and gait disorders. The vestibular system is an intricate and delicate network of sensory nerves and fluid-filled chambers located in your inner ear. It is responsible for your sense of position or proprioception and helps you walk upright, bend, and comprehend the position of your body parts relative to other body parts.
When the vestibular system is compromised, you may experience problems such as an unsteady gait, falling, loss of balance, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Some of the most common causes of vestibular problems include ear infections, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and Meniere’s disease.
Muscle Weakness and Other Musculoskeletal Problems
If your balance problems are accompanied by leg swelling, bruising, or pain, they may be caused by problems in your musculoskeletal system. In such cases, you have zero nervous, brain, or vestibular problems but your muscles are weakened or damaged. This may be due to disease or injury and can make it difficult or impossible for your feet and legs to hold you up. Common muscle and joint conditions that can contribute to balance problems include wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis), strains and sprains, bone fractures, ligament tears, and leg length discrepancy.
Gait and balance disorders can also result from neuromuscular or neurological problems. Common medical conditions that affect your neurological functions include brain injuries, brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and stroke.
Because of how these conditions manifest, they can affect the functioning of your peripheral nerves – the nerves that travel through your legs – spinal cord, and brain. This can disrupt communication signals between your brain, legs, and back, which can make maintaining balance difficult.
Injuries and Trauma
You may notice you feel dizzy or unsteady following an accident or injury. Trauma that impairs the functioning of your muscles or nerves can affect your gait, causing your body to adopt an abnormal walking style. In some cases, the injury is new and caused by an identifiable event such as falling down the stairs. Other times, however, balance problems are caused by an old improperly-healed injury that forms scar tissue and limits the range of motion in your hips, knees, or feet.
How Are Balance Problems Treated?
Whatever the cause of your balance or gait problems, it is obvious that this condition can be highly distressing and disorienting. Feeling dizzy or unsteady every time you get up can make you afraid to perform simple tasks like going up the stairs or walking outside. Your doctor will usually address this problem depending on the cause and your goals.
Initially, they may prescribe home exercise, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, orthotics, or footwear changes. If these do not help, you and your provider may discuss more aggressive treatments to help you regain balance and muscle strength. Simply call today to learn more.