Posted by: Thixia | March 16, 2008

Balance and MS 1 of 5

Balance and MS  

Does everyone with MS experience balance difficulties?

Balance problems are common in multiple sclerosis (MS), but the causes and effects can vary from person to person and from one day to another.  Problems can include ‘vertigo’ – a feeling of dizziness where the world appears to be spinning, though not everyone experiences this.  For some people, balance problems mean they are wobbly on their feet from time to time, or they find they need to move with more care than before to avoid losing balance.Finding the best way to manage any balance problems will be an individual thing – there is no single solution for everyone.  But many people do find effective ways to improve their balance and feel more confident about getting about.Keeping the body balanced involves many messages going to and from the brain.  Even standing still, the body is constantly adjusting to the environment and making tiny changes.  When MS causes damage to the brain or spinal cord, this can distort messages and cause balance problems.  However, there can be other causes, quite separate from MS, and balance problems are common in the general population too.    



Balance difficulties in everyday life

People with MS can experience balance problems in different ways.  For some, feeling unsteady is a brief, passing sensation, for others it may be a more lasting issue that affects getting about day to day.  It may affect how you get around on foot, or by car, and moving from one position to another.  Stationary activities such as reading, watching a film or television can also be disrupted.


Apprehension and anxiety

Balance usually happens without us thinking about it, and if this changes, even temporarily, it can take some getting used to.  It is not unusual to feel a sense of apprehension about walking in unfamiliar places when balance is difficult, particularly if it is a new or changing symptom.  Vertigo and other balance difficulties can understandably cause a certain amount of anxiety.  Anxiety, in turn, may make balance more difficult, so it is important that the emotional side of symptoms are not ignored.  Anyone can experience anxiety, and if you do, it may not be directly because of MS, but whatever the causes, there are treatments and ways to manage it.  Speak to your MS nurse, doctor or other health care professional if you think you notice changes in your mood or are often feeling anxious or depressed.  


Explaining to others

Balance problems might sometimes have more of an impact because of other people’s misunderstandings.  It is not uncommon for people with MS to find themselves explaining that they are not drunk, just wobbly on their feet sometimes – especially if this is the only symptom people around them can see.  The MS Society has produced a credit-card sized Assistance card to help explain this possible symptom of MS. 


Staying safe

As well as affecting everyday mobility, balance problems can increase the risk of falling, perhaps with painful consequences.  Finding ways to manage the problem can minimise this risk.  You may find you need to pay more attention than usual to balancing when you walk and move around – something you have usually been doing without thinking.  The expression ‘can’t walk and chew gum’ might accurately describe the situation – you may find you can balance better when you focus only on walking, without doing anything else at the same time.  You might decide to try using a stick sometimes, for balance.  The important thing is to find the best solution for you.  



  1. it is a pain, don,t think anyone understand

  2. Other people probably do not understand. For me, I think the bigger issue is that I just want to be “normal ” again and be able to go about life unnoticed. Walking can be more work than it is worth; there is tension in other parts of my body as I try to walk with normalcy and compensate for my abnormal gate and balance. A walk should reduce stress, not cause it in addition to playing you out.

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