Dizziness is the second most common reason people see a doctor in the United States. Although very common, it can significantly impact a person’s life, even making routine daily activities difficult. You may feel like you’re spinning, walking on a boat, foggy, or moving in slow motion. Even when these symptoms subside, there is often anxiety surrounding the possibility of the symptoms returning.
There are many reasons why someone might feel dizzy. A Physical Therapist with specialized training can help to identify the underlying source of dizziness and balance problems (though in some cases it is not known) and provide the proper care. Vestibular rehabilitation uses techniques including body position changes, oculomotor exercises, balance retraining and motion tolerance exercises to treat vertigo and balance disorders.
Dizziness breaks down into two main categories: BPPV and Vestibular dysfunction.
BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo usually shows up as brief periods of spinning when changing positions or moving your head. Classic movements that trigger dizziness with BPPV are looking up, lying down, and rolling on your side in bed. BPPV is caused when small crystals from your inner ear end up in your semi-circular canals – where they’re not supposed to be. This can happen because of an infection, virus, head trauma, aging, and sometimes we’re not sure of the cause. Your semi-circular canals are part of your balance system. When the crystals end up in the canals, they send mixed signals to your brain, which is interpreted as dizziness or a spinning sensation.
While BPPV can be hard to live with, it’s usually pretty easy to treat. A specially trained PT performs cannalith repositioning maneuvers – a technical term for a specific pattern of head movements. These movements utilize gravity to get the crystals out of your semi-circular canals and back where they belong to relieve your dizziness.
Vestibular dysfunction is an umbrella term for things that impact your balance or cause dizziness. It includes problems with your inner ear, vision, balance problems, and more. Whatever the root cause of your dizziness is, we’ll perform a specialized evaluation in order to design a treatment plan that’s specific to your issue. We’ll likely start with some simple strategies to reduce dizziness. We’ll also include specific exercises to help resolve your dizziness. Depending on what’s causing your symptoms, these exercises might focus on improving the coordination between your eyes and brain, improving your balance, or helping your brain resolve faulty messages from your inner ear. Contact us to get scheduled for an evaluation, find out what’s causing your dizziness and learn how we can help. Research has shown that initiating PT within the first few months following a vestibular deficit yields the best outcomes, as it is during this time that your body has the best opportunity to heal.