Dizziness & Balance Disorders
Feeling unsteady in the world is not only uncomfortable, but unsafe. In the aging population, falls are one of the most common causes of hospitalizations and comorbidity.
There are many reasons for dizziness, vertigo, and feeling imbalanced. They range from neuropathy in the feet (if you can’t feel your feet, then you will likely be unstable when walking), visual issues, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, vestibular imbalances (middle ear), to poor brain and brainstem integration. All of these will leave you feeling less than steady. Uncommonly, there are the more insidious causes, such as aneurysms and tumors — both benign and malignant. A rapid onset, confusion, loss of speech or feeling in your face could signify you are having a stroke. When getting examined, this should be immediately ruled out.
The true definition of vertigo is to either feel like you are spinning around in a room, or the room is spinning around you. It is a symptom of improper balance in your vestibular system, which is a complex network of neurological structures located in your head, brainstem, and different parts of your cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Your vestibular system is bilateral, meaning you have one on each side, and they push against one another. If one side is stronger or weaker than the other, you can feel like you are moving or spinning to one side.
There are many causes of vertigo: one of the most common and fairly easy to treat is Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV). Other, more complicated reasons are: Meniere's disease, Vestibular Neuronitis, Superior Canal Dehiscence, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, as well as some less common things like a Perilymphatic Fistula, Superior Canal Dehiscence, an Acoustic Neuroma or other tumor, Multiple Sclerosis, or even Parkinson's.
All of these conditions can leave you feeling unsteady on your feet, or give you a sense of a loss of balance with or without true vertigo.
Vertigo and balance disorders can be incredibly disabling and, at best, leave you very uncomfortable. Anyone with imbalance issues or vertigo needs a thorough neurological examination to determine the underlying cause. It is often the subtle neurological findings that give us a clue as to how to help an individual. This is why, as functional neurologists, we take a very careful look at ocular (eye) movements and function, and combine that with gait analysis so that each patient ends up with a unique treatment protocol that is specific to their pathology or loss of function.
If you want to get rid of your dizziness and other symptoms schedule your consult and exam today.