Balance issues can arise from various causes, including age-related changes, neurological conditions, inner ear disorders, medication side effects, and musculoskeletal problems. Here are a few insights into the prevalence of balance issues in Australia:
Age-related balance issues: As people age, balance problems become more common. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017-2018, falls were the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Australians aged 65 years and older (AIHW, 2020).
Vestibular disorders: Disorders affecting the vestibular system, which contribute to balance and spatial orientation, can also lead to balance issues. While there is limited specific data on the prevalence of vestibular disorders in Australia, estimates from international studies suggest that approximately 35% of adults aged 40 years and older experience vestibular dysfunction (Menz et al., 2013).
Neurological conditions: Various neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke, can impact balance. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2017-2018, around 8.4% of Australians aged 65 years and older had Parkinson’s disease (ABS, 2019).
What conditions can affect balance?
There are various medical conditions and factors that can affect balance. Common conditions that can impact balance include:
Inner ear disorders: The inner ear plays a crucial role in maintaining balance. Conditions such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Ménière’s disease, and vestibular neuritis can cause dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems.
Neurological disorders: Certain neurological conditions can affect balance due to their impact on the brain and nervous system. Examples include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebellar ataxia, and peripheral neuropathy.
Musculoskeletal conditions: Problems with muscles, joints, or bones can affect balance. Conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle weakness, and joint instability can contribute to balance issues.
Vision disorders: Visual input helps maintain balance and spatial orientation. Visual impairments, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, can affect balance and increase the risk of falls.
Medications: Certain medications, particularly those that affect the central nervous system, can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and balance problems as a side effect.
Cardiovascular conditions: Certain heart and circulatory disorders, including low blood pressure (hypotension), heart rhythm disturbances, and peripheral artery disease, can affect blood flow and lead to balance issues.
Anxiety and psychological factors: Anxiety disorders and psychological factors can contribute to balance problems through alterations in the body’s response to stress and changes in muscle tension.
What can be done about balance issues?
When it comes to addressing balance issues, there are several steps that can be taken. Firstly, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate the underlying cause of the balance problem. They may conduct tests, and examinations, or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Once the cause is identified, appropriate treatment options can be explored. This may include medications to manage balance issues caused by certain medical conditions, physical therapy to improve balance and stability through exercises and rehabilitation techniques, or lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, getting regular exercise, and ensuring proper sleep. Additionally, home modifications can be made to create a safer living environment, and fall prevention strategies can be implemented. Overall, the approach will depend on the specific cause of the balance issue and may involve a combination of medical interventions, therapies, and lifestyle adjustments to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.
Can Chiropractic help with balance issues?
Chiropractic care may be helpful for some individuals with balance issues, particularly if the problem is related to the musculoskeletal system or spinal alignment. Chiropractors primarily focus on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system, aiming to improve overall health by making adjustments to the spine and other parts of the body.
In some cases, misalignments or subluxations in the spine can disrupt nerve signals and affect balance. Chiropractic adjustments may help realign the spine and improve nerve function, potentially leading to a reduction in balance problems.
How can Chiropractic care help with balance issues?
Chiropractic care may potentially help with balance issues by addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and spinal misalignments that may contribute to problems with balance. Ways Chiropractic care may be beneficial include:
Spinal alignment: Chiropractors focus on adjusting the spine to improve its alignment. If there are subluxations or misalignments in the vertebrae, it can interfere with nerve communication and affect balance. By realigning the spine, Chiropractic adjustments aim to restore proper nerve flow and enhance overall body function, potentially improving balance.
Nerve function: The nervous system plays a crucial role in maintaining balance. Chiropractic adjustments can help release pressure on nerves that may be compressed or irritated due to misalignments. By reducing nerve interference, chiropractic care may improve the transmission of nerve signals related to balance.
Musculoskeletal balance: Chiropractors also assess the alignment and function of other musculoskeletal structures, such as the hips, pelvis, and extremities. Imbalances or dysfunctions in these areas can affect posture, gait, and overall stability, leading to balance issues. Chiropractic treatments, including soft tissue therapies and corrective exercises, may be employed to restore proper musculoskeletal balance, possibly improving balance.
Comprehensive approach: Chiropractors often take a holistic approach to healthcare, considering various factors that may contribute to balance problems. They may evaluate lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and posture, and provide recommendations to address any underlying issues. Additionally, Chiropractors may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists or medical doctors, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs.
While Chiropractic care may be beneficial for certain balance issues, it is important to remember that the effectiveness may vary depending on the underlying cause. It is advisable to consult with a Chiropractor or healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific condition and determine if Chiropractic care is an appropriate option for you.
Chiropractic care and Vertigo
Chiropractic care may have potential benefits for individuals experiencing vertigo, but it is important to note that the effectiveness can vary depending on the underlying cause of vertigo. Vertigo is often caused by issues in the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. Chiropractic care may help with vertigo in the following ways:
Cervical spine adjustments: Chiropractors often focus on the alignment and mobility of the cervical spine (neck). If there are misalignments or restrictions in the neck vertebrae, it can affect nerve function and blood flow to the vestibular system. Chiropractic adjustments aim to restore proper alignment and movement in the cervical spine, potentially relieving pressure on nerves and improving blood flow to the vestibular system.
Epley maneuver: The Epley maneuver is a specific technique used by Chiropractors and other healthcare professionals to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a common type of vertigo caused by displaced crystals in the inner ear. The Epley maneuver involves a series of head and body movements to reposition the crystals, alleviating symptoms of vertigo.
Holistic approach: Chiropractors often take a holistic approach to healthcare and consider various factors that may contribute to vertigo. They may evaluate lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, and provide recommendations to address any underlying issues. Additionally, Chiropractors may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as audiologists or neurologists, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for vertigo management.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Falls and fall injuries among older people in Australia 2017-18. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls-and-fall-injuries-among-older-people/summary