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Imbalance, Anyone?
Apr 25, 2014
I'd really appreciate some input on this one, so please be generous :-)

About a year and a half ago, I went to bed after a normal day of moving around as usual, but when I awoke the next morning, it was all I could do to move around the house without falling. It wasn't dizziness or vertigo (no spinning sensations), but rather "just" acute imbalance, requiring me to always keep one hand on any stable surface such as tables and chair backs.

It didn't go away, so I visited my PC doctor, who first ordered an MRI (which showed nothing out of the ordinary), then sent me to an ENT specialist. After numerous ENT tests (again showing nothing), I was referred to a neurologist. There, I was given clinical tests, blood analysis (19 vials at once!, prompting me to ask for orange juice and cookies :-), and an EMG. The EMG was positive for peripheral neuropathy, which made sense when put together with the "sock" feeling, edema in the feet and ankle, and a few other minor things I hadn't paid much attention to. Later on, I had a DaTscan to eliminate Parkinson's.

But as for the most commonly mentioned neuropathy symptom, pain, I've experienced none. Occasional leg cramps at night, but nothing to write home about. Meanwhile, my neurologist put me on 900mg of Gabapentin, 300mg 3 times a day, then dropped it down to 600mg when I expressed a mild complaint of falling asleep in the afternoon.

And that's it. From what I've read here about pain and other really difficult symptoms, I'm almost embarrassed to bring this up, but the imbalance is progressing and I've come to within a gnat's eyelash of falling, many times. At my age of 73, a fall can have disastrous consequences. I use a cane, of course, but the anxiety is always there.

So (at last), my question becomes whether or not imbalance is a symptom of peripheral neuropathy among the folks who post here. Oddly, it would give me some degree of comfort if it's a fairly common symptom, however mild in comparison to other symptoms.

You see, given my age there are a good number of disorders that can cause imbalance, and I'm not entirely comfortable with my neurologist's opinion that neuropathy is the source of my disequilibrium. During my researches, I've discovered that while sometimes imbalance is listed among peripheral neuropathy symptoms, it's almost always at the bottom of the list, and often doesn't appear on such lists at all. I fear that my neurologist may have been too quick to jump to a comfortable opinion based only on clinical examination and an EMG. Yes, the EMG confirms neuropathy, but I'm not sure that neuropathy explains my disequilibrium.

So, please chip in if you've been diagnosed with neuropathy and have balance problems.

Also, please forgive me for being so long-winded :-)

Frank
Hi Frank! I have peripheral neuropathy and have had it for a number of years. I am 71 and I believe this is a "gift" from my father's side of the family as he had it for about 30 years.

Neuropathy is progressive and I had to go through a lot of tests and finally a test of the nerve reaction and connection to the brain to convince doctors I know what I am talking about.

I am not diagnosing here, but telling you I have a great problem with balance and it is slowly getting worse. However, I daily do ankle exercises, and balancing exercises at the kitchen counter - the idea is the nerve signal (sensory) to the brain is delayed a fraction of time so your body doesn't react in time to avoid a possible fall.

I do find myself spending time each day practicing walking - what used to come naturally, and it and the exercises are helping my mobility - not the pain, but the mobility. You can find exercises on line that you can do for your ankles and feet while in a chair or lying in bed. Also look up the various balance exercises to strengthen the muscles - it will take a few weeks but you should see a difference. I hope this helps





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