Physical Therapy can be an important modality for the treatment of vertigo. Benign paroxysmal positional Vertigo (BPPV) most referred to as vertigo is generally an inner ear problem that causes sensations of spinning, unsteadiness, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. It is a common cause of balance loss and falls.
Most people experiencing vertigo have difficulties with any type of movement including moving from sit to stand positions, sudden head movements and getting up from a lying position. Those who have experienced vertigo, like myself, have felt the sensations of constant dizziness and head spinning even while in a static position. This can be quite debilitating, frightening, and stressful.
What Causes Vertigo?
BBPV is not a life threatening disorder, but it is an uncomfortable one. BBPV is caused when small crystals in your inner ear are misaligned or become loose giving false messages to your brain when you make sudden movements. The onset can be abrupt, and, in most cases, there is no specific event which causes this to happen. There is no specific age where vertigo can strike. However, it is most common in adults over the age of 60.
Identifying and Treating Vertigo with Physical Therapy
Often doctors will prescribe a patient with anti-nausea, decongestants, or anti-motion sickness medications known as Meclizine. While these medications can reduce symptoms, they are not curing and will not re-align the crystals in your inner ear.
Diagnosing vertigo can be done with a maneuver called Dix-Hallpike, which a trained physical therapist can perform. This often uncomfortable maneuver is done by lying a patient on their back, moving their head, and looking for rapid eye changes while in that position. This can tell us which ear is the cause of the problem. After we identify this, a simple and effective treatment known as the Epley maneuver and other physical therapy approaches and exercise programs can re-align the crystals and dramatically reduce symptoms and improve balance to a patient.
Physical Therapy Help Manages Vertigo Symptoms
I have experienced vertigo firsthand and have worked with many patients to restore balance into their lives. Physical therapy can help. We can show home exercises to manage your symptoms and teach patients self-maneuvers should a reoccurrence happen. Please contact Wedell Home Therapy to learn more.
By Maria Li Calzi, Physical Therapy Assistant
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). (n.d.). Retrieved from John’s Hopkins Medicine: