Loss Of Balance & Coordination: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

It takes many aspects of the body parts to work together for keeping good balance and coordination. For majority of people coordination and balancing of movement is a smooth and seamless task. Once in a while feeling dizzy or tripping over during a walk is not something worrying. However, if you lose your balance and coordination persistently it can be a part of disease issue that needs medical evaluation. You may not feel but any movement is a thought out process where a single muscle or group of muscles is involved.

The whole functioning mechanism is controlled by brain, largely by the cerebellum, an important part in the brain. Loss of balance and coordination in medical terminology is called ataxia. It occurs primarily when there is a lack of communication between brain and different parts of body. Patient having this problem has to live with great difficulty in his daily life. Let us know the reasons underlying loss of balance and deterioration in coordination.

Causes Of Loss Of Balance And Coordination

There are host of causes that may lead to loss of balance and coordination.

It can be sudden in onset or may be chronic. The causes in general are related to the brain, particularly cerebellum part of brain which controls movement and balance of the body. Let us begin with some simple causes first.

  • Alcohol intake: Alcohol can affect brain. Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to trouble in balancing the body, judgment and coordination. It causes difficulty in walking, slurred speech, imbalance and many more symptoms. This occurs because alcohol alters the level of chemicals in brain called neurotransmitters.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): It is a disease of central nervous system affecting brain and spinal cord.
    Lesions present in cerebellum due to this condition cause unsteady gait and loss of control over limb movement.
  • Infection: Infection in brain such as brain tuberculosis or meningitis can cause damage to the cerebellum resulting in imbalance.
  • Muscle weakness: It is more commonly seen in old people as old age causes loss of muscle mass. Weak muscles will find difficulty in holding the body weight. It can affect proper alignment and posture.
  • Medications: There are several medicines that may cause this problem, especially sedatives and antipsychotic and antiepileptic medicines.
  • Brain tumor, brain injury, spinal cord injury.
  • Hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Dizziness and feeling of imbalance is common in orthostatic hypotension.
  • Neuropathy caused by injury to the nerve as in case of diabetes etc.

Symptoms Of Loss Of Balance And Coordination

A person is not able to control his posture and position when he has loss of balance and coordination. He finds difficulty in walking straight. He staggers and walks with wide steps to balance his body. The movement of arms is abnormal and broad. Symptoms may develop suddenly as in case of drinking too much of alcohol or may occur over a period of time as in case of multiple sclerosis. Other manifestations are:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Monotone speech
  • Difficulty in vision.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Exaggerated movement around the mouth.
  • Movement of limbs or arms is not in coordination.

Treatment For Loss Of Balance And Coordination

Loss of balance and coordination occurs due to multiple reasons. In many cases when the underlying disease is treated the symptoms will subside. Imbalance and lack of coordination in muscle movement caused after drinking too much can subside once the effect of alcohol is over. However, chronic alcoholism can cause permanent damage to the cerebellum and patient may have persistent imbalance and lack of muscular coordination.

For chronic cases certain medications can help to reduce the symptoms. When balance and coordination problem is permanent, other mode of therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy etc will help to ease the regular life of a person.

Simultaneously, supplementation of vitamins such as vitamin B12, Vitamin E and other B vitamins is useful. Avoiding exposure to toxins will prevent further damage and deterioration in the illness.