Symptoms and Causes of Poor Balance That May Surprise You

By Colorado Integrative Neurology

Balance Awareness Week is Sept. 16-22. You might be surprised that there is a week dedicated to balance, but the truth is, good balance is an incredibly important component of your health. Poor balance can lead to falls, which can cause injuries. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the No. 2 cause of nonfatal injuries for people in the 15-24 age range and the No. 1 cause for everyone else. But oftentimes, you may not even realize how poor balance affects your quality of life.

Balance is, to put it simply, the way you respond to your environment. When you respond well, it means that you can identify where you are in space, detect shifts in your environment, assess how to correct your movements as needed, and adjust accordingly. For example, when you see something in your way, you can easily move to avoid it.

If you have poor balance, you may struggle with one or more of the tasks above. You might struggle to identify where you are, or you can’t adjust accordingly. In the above example, you may bump into something or get dizzy if you try to move too quickly.

But poor balance can affect your quality of life on many more levels.

Symptoms of Poor Balance

You may experience more obvious symptoms such as vertigo, stumbling, repetitive ankle injuries, light-headedness or bumping into walls. But there are several additional symptoms to be aware of that you may be surprised are associated with balance:

  • Chronic neck and back pain – This occurs because the areas of the brain that control balance also keep the spine healthy and stable.
  • Depression – A depressed state of mind changes postural reflexes that result in forward head posture and a flexed trunk. This causes increased strain/stress on your spinal muscles.
  • Anxiety – In addition to coordinating movement, some of the balance centers, in particular the cerebellum, also coordinate mood and emotions.
  • Clumsiness/poor coordination – If you have poor balance, you might find yourself frequently dropping things or hitting the wrong letters on the keyboard.
  • Dizziness – If the balance centers in the brain get out of sync, you can experience different types of dizziness.
  • Blurry vision/eye strain/eye pain – Decreased balance can sometimes be a result of general depressed brain function, which will cause visual disturbances.

Treating Poor Balance

If you have a balance problem, there are several therapies that may be helpful. These can help you improve your balance, reduce the risk of falls and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Figuring out the right therapy for you depends on a number of factors. First, the root cause of your balance issue needs to be addressed. Poor balance is usually the result of at least one of three systems not working optimally: the vestibular system within the inner ear, which detects head movements; the somatosensory system, which provides information about the position of each joint and muscle; and the visual system, which allows you to see your environment and the body’s position within it. 

But even once the cause is established, therapeutic results vary. What works for one patient may not work for another, so it’s important to try multiple therapies until you find the one that works best to manage your symptoms.

At Colorado Integrative Neurology, we focus on getting to the root cause of your balance issues by ensuring that each of these three systems functions well, trying as many therapies as necessary.

No two patients are alike, so no two treatment plans are alike, either.

If you are ready to find the cause of your balance issues and explore new treatment options to help you live your life to the fullest, contact us today.

Copyright © 2018 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at or email us at A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.