How can physical therapy help with dizziness and vertigo? Frequent or persistent dizziness and vertigo are commonly reported symptoms by adults. Dizziness and vertigo can cause significant disruption in daily function and quality of life. Dizziness is the sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness. Vertigo has a rotational, spinning component and feels like there is motion when there is none. Both dizziness and vertigo are usually related to dysfunction in the vestibular system. The vestibular system is what allows you to know your body’s position in space. It includes the inner ear, brainstem, and parts of the brain. An estimated 35 percent of adults over the age of 40 have experienced some kind of vestibular dysfunction.
There are many causes of dizziness and vertigo. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common, and is a result of a mechanical problem in the inner ear. Symptoms include a false sense of spinning or “flipping,” that is usually triggered by getting in or out of bed, looking up, driving, and bending over. This occurs as a result of calcium carbonate crystals (called otoconia) dislodging within the inner ear and migrating into another part of the inner ear where they do not belong. Ninety percent of cases can be treated successfully by a trained healthcare practitioner, often a physical therapist with a vestibular background. This treatment involves a highly successful procedure called a canalith-repositioning technique. Examples of this technique include the Epley or Lempert Manuever that usually results in resolution of symptoms within one to three sessions.
A patient who complains of vertigo or dizziness will receive a full evaluation from a vestibular physical therapist to diagnose the source of the symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. An evaluation consists of a thorough history, assessment of nerve function, vision and hearing tests, balance, neck function, as well as specific tests to determine if BPPV is present. If BPPV is present, the physical therapist will perform a canalith-repositioning technique. Vestibular problems can be improved by having the patient participate in a carefully monitored exercise program. Physical therapists also are trained to recognize more serious problems that may need to be referred to your doctor. The goal of vestibular rehab is to reduce dizziness and vertigo, and improve balance primarily through an exercise-based program.
Vestibular dysfunction often manifests in problems with balance. Balance relies on the interplay of three systems: the visual, the sensory, and the vestibular. When there are deficits within the vestibular system, the visual and sensory systems can become overly dominant. Many people become completely reliant on the visual system as the vestibular and sensory systems decline with age. Individuals can become so dominant in the visual system, that balance is completely disrupted when the lights are off or the surface is uneven. This is dangerous because it increases the likelihood of falling and creating other injuries.
If you or someone you know is having trouble with dizziness, vertigo, or balance, consult a vestibular specialist. Axis Sports Medicine has several physical therapists who are trained in vestibular evaluation and treatment. The physical therapists that specialize in vestibular therapy include Ami Doyle (Summit County), and Carrie Eckenhoff (Eagle County) andTed Weber (Eagle County).
Call us to schedule an appointment or ask questions!
Ami- (970) 368-6054 (Silverthorn Clinic)
Ted- (970) 328-4566 (Eagle Clinic)
Carrie- (970) 855-0492 (Edwards Clinic)
or (970) 790-9600 (Avon clinic)
About Axis Sports Medicine:
Axis Sports Medicine is committed to clinical exellence, building loyal relationships and providing a positive patient experience to make us the number one choice for physical therapy in our mountain communities.
We offer the highest standard of outpatient physical therapy. Our treatments are backed by advanced research and proven techniques delivered by a company recognized for employing among the highest
number of advanced certified physical therapists in the state of Colorado.