What causes balance and gait problems in seniors?

What Causes Balance and Gait Problems

This isn’t always an easy question to answer, because there are many issues that can cause balance and gait problems in seniors. 

Unfortunately, it’s very likely that older people will end up with a balance and gait issue. One study reports that 20% of Americans over 60 experience dizziness that prompts them to visit a doctor annually. These statistics grow to 30% for patients over 70 and to 50% for patients 80 or older. Physical therapists can help seniors learn what’s causing their balance and gait problem, and these specialists can also help you find treatment for many balance and gait issues. 

Three balance and gait problems that cause issues for seniors

Out of all the issues that can cause balance and gait problems for seniors, there are three that are especially common: 

  1. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — This is an inner ear condition. BPPV occurs when calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear are knocked loose and enter the semicircular canals. Research shows that older people have an increased risk of this condition. Typically, it’s first noticed while: 
  • Turning over in bed.
  • Looking upward.
  • Bending the head forward. 
  1. Arthritis — Problems with the hips and knees can make balancing harder. The most common of these problems is osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage in your joints wears out naturally over time. Besides balance issues, osteoarthritis can also cause joint inflammation, pain and trouble doing normal daily activities. It’s estimated that 67 million U.S. adults will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2025. 
  1. Bilateral vestibular failure (BVF) — One study found that 32.1% of patients surveyed who were over 79 had BVF. This condition occurs when the balance centers in both inner ears are damaged. Often, BVF is the result of taking the antibiotic gentamicin for too long. It can also be the result of issues like Meniere’s disease or meningitis. 

Find help for your balance and gait problems at Border Therapy Services

Looking for help treating these and other causes of balance and gait problems? Our Border Therapy Services team is ready and willing to help you get the help you need. We offer free screenings that can pinpoint the root cause of your balance and gait issues. Additionally, our physical therapists excel at creating personalized vestibular rehab plans designed to improve your symptoms. 

Balance and dizziness making you wary of going out? Our team understands! That’s why we offer therapy services that you can use from home, including at-home care and virtual therapy. 

Contact us today for more information about our vestibular rehab services or to schedule an initial appointment.