Staying Balanced

Can Chronic Low Back Pain Affect Your Balance?

Research suggests that yes, balance is impaired in those with chronic low back pain when compared to healthy individuals.

Our spine consists of many structures like vertebrae, ligaments, discs and nerves. There may be damage to these structures in conditions such as compression fractures, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, arthritis, and stenosis to name a few. Our nerves run along our spine and send signals back and forth from our brains to the rest of our body.  If these nerves become affected, it can lead to muscle weakness or sensation changes, such as numbness, in our legs or other areas of our bodies.

Our balance is controlled by 3 things: the inner ear (vestibular system), the eyes (vision), and sense of touch (proprioception). Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement, force, and body position.  If we have nerve damage causing muscle weakness or altered sensations, this will negatively impact our proprioception, which in turn can affect our balance. This is one way low back impairments can affect our balance.

Here at Apex, we have a balance board to give us more accurate balance assessments.  This device will compare your results to those of similar age to determine if you are high, medium, or low fall risk. We can also use this data to track your progress through physical therapy to see your balance score improve, a sign of decreased fall risk.

To learn more about our balance board, check out this blog written by our physical therapist, Emma Nienaber. How the Balance Board can Improve you Life.

At Apex we offer free 30-minute balance screenings. Call us today if you are interested in setting up a screening.  If you suffer from low back pain or impaired balance, we also have many talented physical therapists on our team to help you.


Yevgeniy Berenshteyn, Kelsey Gibson, Gavin C. Hackett, Andrew B. Trem & Mark Wilhelm (2019) Is standing balance altered in individuals with chronic low back pain? A systematic review, Disability and Rehabilitation, 41:13, 1514-1523, DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1433240

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