I'm beginning to struggle with my balance when walking. Is this normal?
If you are noticing changes in your balance, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause. One of the most common causes for declining balance is loss of range of motion of the hips, knees, and especially the ankles. Loss of core, hip and ankle strength can also cause unsteadiness. With age, we often struggle more with hip, knee and ankle strategies for correction of balance loss and resort to reaching out to objects to steady ourselves, yet this actually increases our risk of falling. Other things that can cause changes in balance include vestibular issues, peripheral neuropathy, or neurological/mental decline.
Physical Therapy can help with declining balance by restoring range of motion and strength, as well as improving your use of hip, knee and ankle strategies for correction of balance loss. PT can also be helpful if the cause of your balance loss is due to vestibular issues, peripheral neuropathy, or other neurological issues. At your first PT appointment, your therapist will perform a thorough evaluation of range of motion, strength, and both static and dynamic balance. You can expect an average of 8-12 sessions to see improvement in your balance, and you will most likely have a home exercise program assigned by your therapist as well. Physical Therapy is usually covered by insurance, but always check with your insurance company and your therapist to be sure.
Changes in your balance don't have to be accepted as a "normal" part of aging. It's important to find out what is causing your loss of balance, and there are treatment options available. Consider scheduling an appointment with a Physical Therapist to learn more.
~Amy McFadden, Physical Therapist