Recently I noticed that in spite of doing a lot more exercise and feeling healthier, my balance had taken a turn for the worse. It can be very disheartening when you have reduced function in something you were previously very good at.
Many people with MS struggle with balance and feeling unsteady in their feet. It can make life more difficult, and it can mean that even simple activities can be more challenging.
We all use a lot of systems to maintain our balance and sense of where we are in the world. We call upon sensory systems: the movement of our head and our hearing and vision to be able to work out where all of our limbs are. Our brain deciphers all of the signals coming in from around us to make sure that we are able to stay upright and balanced.
If any of these different signals are disrupted then there can be a sense of dizziness or instability. Even without having ms a lot of things can cause this – from having an ear infection to drinking too much alcohol. Lots of people with ms also suffer vertigo, causing symptoms such as dizziness when laying in certain positions, or when moving from one position to another. One of my symptoms of vertigo is the feeling I am going to fall down stairs, and struggling to walk down hills and other declines. This is to do with mechanical problems and altered signalling to the ear.
I have struggled with dizziness and balance issues since I was little and was always placed as being a clumsy child. Since having ms diagnosed, I am at least able to associate this to something and am now able to work on treating these issues.
Phyios have indicated that the best form of treatment for this condition is exercise. I’m not an expert in this so won’t go into any detail but if you’re interested in treating your balance issues I’d recommend going to a Neuro physiotherapist.
One thing I can recommend is using yoga and Thai chi to help with balance. Recently I’ve been trying to improve my own balance issues by going to Thai chi classes and as well as being challenging, they are great fun and a surprisingly good work out!!
I wrote another blog on improving balance with MS– why not have a read for some tips to improve your balance?!