Ask the PT: About Arthritis and my Balance

How has arthritis impaired my balance?

Response from PT Cumberland Physical Therapist David Dansereau, MSPT

One of the most common causes of falls,  particularly as we age,  is related to arthritis and inflammation in our joints.  This happens because the small receptors in joints that are constantly talking to your brain telling you what position your joints are in can become impaired.   This sophisticated balance feedback mechanism is also referred to as proprioception.  As joints start to degenerate, this feedback mechanism becomes inhibited and/or altered by pain.  As a consequence, your body becomes tight and more and more reliant upon your muscles to compensate for this loss.  The good news is your body is incredibly sophisticated and able to adapt to change. You can retrain your balance and reduce your risk of falls even if one of your components to balance control are impaired by strengthening the others.  In addition to joint pain and weak muscles, other factors to consider related to balance could be vision problems, medication changes, poor nutrition, or dizziness related to other conditions.  You should always report falls to your family members and seek qualified medical help to further evaluate your fall risk concerns.  Learn more about how your balance works through our evidence-based fall prevention programs.   

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