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Walking symptoms with Vestibular Migraines


One of my doctors thinks that I have Vestibular Migraines. I do have some of the symptoms that are associated with VM but one of my symptoms I’m not sure fits into this condition. I’ve read some of the past forum comments on how this condition can affect ones walking and the comments usually mention a trampoline type of sensation for those that experience a change in there walking… My walking symptoms don’t feel anything like that. I’ll try to describe my walking symptoms. When I walk I have a sensation that my right foot drops down about 5 or 6 inches whenever my left foot comes off the ground. As soon as the left foot is back on the ground both feet feel normal again. This only happens when walking and not when I’m standing still. When this whole thing first happened about 2 years ago with the vertigo, head pressure and walking problem the symptoms were definitely worse and what I noticed was that when my left foot was on the ground during the walking motion it seemed as if my head was tracking properly in space. My sense of balance was up by my head where it should be but once the left foot came off the ground it seemed like my sense of balanced was being tracked with the position of my right foot instead of my head. So during the walking motion there is a point when the right foot is ahead of your head and that’s where my sense of balance would shoot to and then follow the right foot as it goes behind my head so it felt like my balance was behind my head until the left foot is back on the ground and the sense of balance would shoot back up to my head and track properly.

As the months have gone by I think there has been some compensation that has occurred and it feels like it mostly is tracking my sense of balance with my head but I still have the sensation that my right foot drops 5 or 6 inches whenever the left foot comes off the ground. I still have rotational vertigo and a rocking sensation but the head pressure is usually gone now.

It’s difficult to explain this but I’m hoping it will make some sense to read it.

My question is does any of this walking problem sound like VM or should I be talking to a neurologist about possibly 2 separate conditions here. They both happened at the same time but I’m starting to wonder if they’re 2 separate things.

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I personally haven’t experienced this. It sounds like something to do with faulty proprioception, which could be migraine or something else. If you see a neurologist, it couldn’t hurt to ask.


Welcome to our community!

Well I’ve VM/MAV, had it fifteen and more years, and as yet, I’ve never had ‘a trampoline type if sensation’ walking. Loads of other symptoms and I wonder uf same as yours, a feeling one foit goes down too far or not far enough, ie seems to fall short if the ground when walking. Coukd that be it. If so, that’s VM.

MAV/VM symptoms vary considerably between individuals. It’s certainly not possible to confirm its presence by existence/absence if one particular symptom. It is generally diagnosed by detailed history and the presence of a largish percentage of common symptoms together with the absence of any other condition that could appear to be causing symptoms. The symptoms you describe can be attributed to some sensory misinterpretation of signals and relate to imbalance which in itself is common with MAV. As you already had a MAV diagnosis you’d be pretty unlucky to have developed something else totally different at the same time so it would seem more likely to be part of the VM. I always remember a VRT therapist telling me, with any balance disorder, to ‘expect anything to happen, and you won’t be surprised’. From my own exp. since I don’t think she was far out there. It’s still surprising me! Helen


I’ve seen 4 neurologists since I’ve had this condition. They all do the same test to check for MS and after I pass it they don’t seem to know what to say to me about the walking issue. One of the neurologists said to me the only thing I can help you with is the migraine. He talked as if a migraine can’t have any effect on your walking. I feel like the neurologists I’ve seen don’t have a clue… so that’s why I’m on this forum to try to figure out if this walking issue has ever been seen with someone who has VM.


I have a sensation that my right foot goes down too far like stepping in a hole. It’s always the right foot though and never the left foot and it never feels like it steps too short of the ground. Sometimes throughout the course of a day it will feel like it steps at the proper height but 80% of the time it doesn’t. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I do some of the “heel to toe” rehab exercises I’ve found online that my right foot will start to feel like its stepping at the proper height maybe 50% of the time but only for a lap or two of walking across my living room before it goes back to the way it was. I’m really not sure if rehabbing with foot exercises will fix it or not. I know that the 3 months I spent doing vestibular physical therapy didn’t fix the vertigo so I’m not sure if the foot exercises would work either.


This sounds like one of the many Alice in Wonderland symptoms of VM to me. I suddenly feel as if I am only 3 foot tall and then 9 feet! Weird but entertaining as long as you maintain your sense of humour! It can make any body part feel wrong, too big, too small or just not working correctly.


There’s a suggested explanation for this in the above. Quite a plausible hypothesis maybe. Helen

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Most settling MAV symptoms come on intermittently to start and gradually extend.

If the strange walking feeling is result of some faulty misfiring signals in a hypersensitised ‘migraine’ type brain and the dizziness, which is itself is an indication your balance system is struggling, is the result of same and VM/MAV is described as a ‘migraine’ variant balance disorder then controlling the migraine should cure the strange walking. The neuro-otologist I saw told me ‘migraine causes vertigo’. Go see one. Helen


I’ve never experienced anything like that. Everything has always felt like the proper proportions to me. As a side note I’ve read that some people who take Topamax and don’t even have VM will sometimes get some of those unusual distorted size sensations. I haven’t been taking any medicine so I know its not a side effect from medicine or anything like that.


I had that feeling on one occasion. I think it is a vestibular migraine symptom. But, you should definitely tell your neurologist.


It started way before I started topiramate which has calmed it down a lot thank goodness. It really is quite amusing though after you freak out the first time and find out that it is part of VM.


Your description sounds more like an “Alice in Wonderland” kind of syndrome which is common in Migraine (learnt from Migraine world summit). Some people for instance feel they are sitting couple of steps behind where they are actually sitting.


I thought Alice in wonderland at first too, but it doesn’t quite sound like that. It sounds like it’s always the right foot, which is odd for a migraine symptom. I agree your neurologists sound sub par if they won’t address this. Perhaps see a balance specialist. And look up proprioception disorders. MS is at the top of the list, but you’ve had that ruled out.

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So is it normal for symptoms to be regularly changing for VM? Like the one sided head pressure switching sides? The issue has always been with the right foot and when I had regular one sided head pressure it was always on the right side of my head near the temple area and would extend to the right eye area.

If I had a proprioception disorder I wonder if it would still be possible to have some steps with my right foot that are very close to normal and some that aren’t at all? I would think that all the steps would be abnormal but I don’t know much about it.

If I close my eyes and try to touch a certain point on my legs or feet I can accurately touch the spots I intend to. That part feels normal to me but once I start walking it doesn’t feel right.

I mentioned before that it happens when my left foot comes off the ground. interestingly when I slide my feet like when you go skiing (so the left foot doesn’t leave the ground) the ‘walking’ feels close to normal.


My symptoms in my head/face are ALWAYS on my left. The Neuro finally did a neck MRI and I have severe foraminal stenosis on the left. But I also have migraine disease. Dr believes these are two separate things, but the neck can trigger the migraine/dizziness. Theory is also that migraine can also damage one ear, which would cause a persistent issue on one side for some.

That said, if you read about migraine, facial/head symptoms tend to change sides, and sidelocked headaches are a red flag to look for another cause. But often none are found, and the cause is deemed migraine.

As I understand the Alice in Wonderland symptom, it comes in attacks, and alters perception. To my best knowledge, it is not a sidelocked phenomenon over time. I suppose anything is possible, and it could be that. But it would be an atypical presentation. Obviously we are not Dr’s on here and can’t diagnose- it just sounds unusual (not impossible) for your altered perception issues to always be with the right foot. I know you’ve seen several neurologists, so perhaps it’s time to look for a neurotologist who specializes in balance disorders. Where do you live?


I have had the “one leg shorter than the other” sensation. Not regularly like @porter44, but most certainly can understand exactly the way you have described it. I also have a work related friend who I don’t see often, but was with her yesterday and she had MAV until she got pregnant with her daughter… it went away and never returned. She was describing the very same thing in that it was like she stepped into a hole in the floor sometimes, but there was no hole in the floor.


Very similar. Not quite the same I’d say. I had the feeling that your foot had had to go down too far to reach the floor, and sometimes it seemed the floor was closer than your foot had allowed for which meant your foot came down too soon and hit the floor too hard. The latter occurred most often coming down slopes where of course it really does need a shorter step and makes me think it’s MAV causing poor perception. Whichever way different people might describe it, seems very much MAV ~to me. It’s a migraine variant balance disorder after all. I wouldn’t imagine I’ve any other movement disorder. The neuro-otologist I saw was a movement/balance specialist so much so he positively yawned to discover I was a migraine associated vertigo case and couldn’t wait to tell me he had no further interest post diagnosis! Helen


Yet. ‘Never returned yet’. I’d say. Well doesn’t that just scream hormones? Helen

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I wondered if you would pick up on that Helen! Absolutely! It has been 11 years since. I wish I could find more research on this particular connection. As you know, Dr Goebel mentioned it to me but I don’t see a lot of research on the connections. I work with a girl in my office who I just found out yesterday that has classic migraines… (and surprise:roll_eyes:)… started when she had her daughter 3 years ago.


Tell her from my research (and I’ve established several distinct patterns from loads of reading over years) she should be OK. They should stop at menopause. The problems come with people who get a sabbatical - like me! Then it’s virtually guaranteed to return as vertigo it seems. Er, your friend you saw yesterday? Helen

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