Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Just Clumsy, or Something Serious?

    Experts explain when being clumsy is a sign of medical trouble, or just plain klutziness.

    Steps to Cut the Risk of Falls

    Perhaps the ultimate in clumsiness is actually losing your balance and falling down. If you or an aging parent frequently trips or falls, take it seriously. Falls can cause permanent disability, and many are preventable. According to the CDC, a few simple steps can reduce the risk of falls:

    1. Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise increases strength and balance. Your doctor can help you design an effective program for your level of fitness.

    2. Make your home safer by taking actions like these:

    • Take all clutter off stairs.
    • Turn lights on when you get up to use the bathroom at night.
    • Tape down the edges of rugs with double-sided tape.
    • Have handrails placed on all staircases, and put grab bars in shower stalls.

    3. Ask your doctor to review your medicines. "Many medicines have dizziness as a side effect, and this can certainly contribute to falls or clumsiness," says Erica Duncan, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Decatur, Ga. If you suspect side effects from your medications, discuss this with your doctor to confirm and see what alternatives are available.

    4. Have your vision checked. You may have a treatable vision problem like cataracts or glaucoma -- or just need a new prescription.

    Clumsiness: When It's Serious

    When does clumsiness merit a trip to the doctor? The answer is -- whenever you think there might be a problem. We asked Harrison about three real-life cases of clumsiness; all were patients of this writer over the last three years. Their names have been changed. Do you see yourself in any of these common scenarios?

    A Keyed-Up Programmer

    Dave, a 25-year-old computer programmer, felt the heat at work. He said deadlines made him klutzy, and he felt like he was knocking something over every time he turned around. This also happened the last time he had a big project due.

    Diagnosis: routine life stress.

    "It's important to remember that simple things like lack of sleep, skipping meals, or stressful situations might affect our dexterity," says Harrison. Taking care of ourselves when times get tough is the best medicine for this brand of the butterfingers.

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz