Balance and Gait Disorder Questions and Answers
If you are suffering from balance and gait disorder, then contact Repair Sports Institute in Huntington Beach, CA where our compassionate professionals are ready to help you. For more information please call us or schedule an appointment online.
Stability and steadiness in our stride is often taken for granted, at least until we start experiencing balance issues. There are many physical and physiological functions that contribute to our ability to balance, including sensory information from the visual system, proprioceptive input from the muscles, tendons, and joints, and the vestibular system (balance organs) in the inner ear. The brain stem makes sense of all this sensory information in combination with other parts of the brain, enabling us with this complex function. Gait is the term for the way in which a person walks, and is closely related to balance.
What is an unbalanced gait?
An unbalanced gait refers to an abnormal distribution of weight while walking, which may present itself as a limp, a stagger, or another form of uneven perambulation. Gait and balance disorders are common in older adults and contribute to a high amount of falls in the elderly. Unbalanced gaits are associated with reduced level of function, as well as increased morbidity and mortality. Although most gait and balance disorders involve multiple contributing factors, common causes include arthritis and orthostatic hypotension. Most changes in gait should not be considered an inevitable consequence of aging but are instead related to underlying medical conditions.
What are signs of unsteady gait?
There are multiple signs and symptoms of an unsteady gait, including:
- Shuffling when walking
- Instability, or lacking balance
- Coordination problems
- Struggling to walk in a dark room
- Veering left or right when walking
- Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation)
- Stumbling or feeling unstable while walking
- Sensitivity or difficulty with vision and hearing
When an unsteady gait is a chronic problem, people may have a wide stance when walking. In addition to this, they may walk slowly and exhibit caution when walking, and may even stumble.
What conditions cause balance and gait problems?
There are many conditions associated with balance and gait problems, including:
- Affective disorders and psychiatric conditions
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Infection and metabolic diseases
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Neurologic disorders
- Sensory abnormalities
- Blisters/stone bruise/corns/calluses
- Medication side effects
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spinal cord tumor
What do balance problems indicate?
Balance problems can be indicative of several different problems, from relatively minor things like dehydration or fatigue, to more serious complications, including:
- Medication Side Effects — We are all familiar with the vast number of side effects of certain medications, so it is no surprise to learn that medication can cause dizziness and vertigo, both of which affect balance.
- Viral Infections — If a virus infects the ear, it can derail one’s sense of balance. In some cases, colds or bacterial infections can cause pressure changes in the middle ear, causing the same vertiginous effects. These infections usually resolve on their own.
- Ear Crystals — There are tiny crystals of calcium carbonate in the inner ear that play a role in sensing gravity. Sometimes, the crystals meander into parts of the inner ear where they do not belong, which can result in balance issues.
- Meniere’s Disease — Another condition affecting the inner ear, Meniere’s disease causes large amounts of fluid to collect in this region. It can cause dizziness, hearing problems and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Aging — With age comes wisdom, but it also comes with countless physical changes, including balance. The inner ear balance system can decline with age, and the strength of eyesight, hearing and even sense of touch can deteriorate, all of which can contribute to poor balance.
The medical professionals at REPAIR Sports Institute are experienced at treating balance and gait disorders and can help you walk easy! Call us today to book an appointment for balance and gait disorders treatment, or visit our clinic conveniently located at 7146 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. We serve patients from Huntington Beach CA, Seal Beach CA, Newport Beach CA, Costa Mesa CA, Westminster CA, Garden Grove CA, Fountain Valley CA, Long Beach CA, Irvine CA, Santa Ana CA, and Anaheim CA. We look forward to serving you!