Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The neck and balance disturbance

The causes of balance disturbance are many but one of the most common is injury, strain or overuse of the neck joints.

Why?  Along with the inner ear and vision the neck joints deliver a constant stream of information to the brain regarding balance (officially orientation in 3 dimensional space).


Most of our suspicions regarding what is causing the problem come from a history of accidents involving the head and neck where the person has been medically cleared but symptoms persist. Patients typically feel uneasy or 'off', often describe minor visual issues such as keeping focus on computer screens and perform poorly when balance is challenged. If they also present with neck stiffness or clicking there is a very good chance they will respond well when neck movement is improved. In addition some patients require corrective exercises.

The most recent case was the father of a young child who slipped down some stairs. He was essentially uninjured except for a jolted neck and mild concussion. The hospital had cleared him for serious injury and the neck was only slightly uncomfortable but he also began having trouble with 'eye strain' at work, mild headache and poor concentration. His brain scan had been normal after the fall so he hadn't connected his symptoms. His balance was poor particularly when we asked him to close his eyes and tests for inner ear trouble were negative. He responded well to gentle spine mobilisation and didn't require exercises.

Doug Scown