Balance and Walking Difficulties
Balance and walking are closely connected. If you have peripheral neuropathy and cannot feel your feet, or if you feel dizzy/lightheaded, or just feel unsteady in general, walking can be more difficult which could place you at risk of falling and injuring yourself. Even the fear of falling can change how you move and can negatively affect your life by making you less active, more sedentary, and have further balance difficulties.
Common symptoms of balance problems include:
- Difficulty walking in a straight line
- Preferring to grab walls, counters, or furniture
- Shuffling of feet
- Falls or “near falls,” even if you catch yourself
Poor balance can be caused by a variety of issues, which can include:
- Vertigo or Meniere’s Disease
- Fear of falling
- Impaired vision
- Decreased strength
- Injury or other physical trauma
- Poor blood pressure regulation
- Side effects from medications or a combination of medication, especially those treating high blood pressure or depression
- Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or other neurologic conditions
How physical therapy addresses balance and walking problems
Physical therapy treatment can help improve your balance! We can screen different systems and use objective testing to determine where your specific balance difficulties are coming from. Then we can tailor an exercise/balance program to help you make positive changes, feel more confident with movement, and reduce your risk of falling. When your balance improves, it allows you to be more active and generally healthier.
If you are unsure of the extent of your balance deficits, wonder where you fall in relation to other people your age, or are considering using an assistive device like a cane or walker, there are specific tests and norms we can compare your scores against to give you some answers.