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Vertigo: Senses That Help Your Balance and Position - Topic Overview

Your brain uses the input from four sensory systems to help maintain balance and position in relation to your surroundings.

  • Vision provides information about your position and motion in relationship to the rest of the world. This is an important part of the balance mechanism. It often overrides information from the other balance-sensing systems.
  • Sensory nerves in the joints allow the brain to keep track of the position of the legs, arms, and trunk. Your body is then automatically able to make tiny changes in posture that help maintain balance. (This is called proprioception.)
  • Skin pressure sensation provides information about position and motion in relationship to gravity.
  • A portion of the inner ear, called the labyrinth, which includes the semicircular canals, contains specialized cells. They detect motion and changes in position.

If there is a problem with any of the above systems, you will probably feel dizzy (unsteady). Or you may have vertigo (spinning) or poor balance.

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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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