What Is Vertigo?

If you’ve ever felt like the room was spinning, you’ve had Vertigo. You’re unsteady on your feet, disoriented, afraid you might fall, and a little frightened. You may even believe you’re having a stroke or suffer from some other neurological disorder. 

Unfortunately for some, this happens consistently – even chronically – and significantly limits their normal daily lives. 

The good news is, two of the most common causes of Vertigo can easily be treated with physical therapy. 

“The irony of vertigo is that it can be so intrusive and debilitating, yet so easy to resolve. Hands-on, manual therapy—the kind Results therapists  specialize in—has been shown to do wonders with our vertigo patients.” - Craig O'Neil, Results VP of Learning and Affiliation

What is BPPV Vertigo?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, is triggered by movements. It can be something as simple as rolling over in bed, getting up from bed, or looking up or down. Patients usually feel a spinning sensation for 30 to 60 seconds and, occasionally, nausea and imbalance, too.

This is because small crystals in the inner ear get out of place and cause dizziness. The clinical explanation is that calcium carbonate crystals called otoliths migrate from the utricle of the inner ear into the semicircular ear canals. There, they float freely or stick to a structure called the cupula and affect the flow of enolymph fluid.

Regardless of why, someone with BPPV feels horrible. However, it can be eliminated with one or two sessions of physical therapy.

What causes BPPV?

BPPV can occur for no reason at all. But it’s more common after head trauma, like a car accident or fall. It can also happen after the head is tilted for a prolonged period, such as at the dentist or hairdresser. It is more common in women, particularly in middle age or their senior years, than in men.

Success with one treatment

Without treatment, BPPV typically leaves in two to six months. But 90 percent of patients can get results with one five-minute procedure in an outpatient physical therapy clinic. And it doesn’t require drugs, x-rays, or surgery.

First, your therapist will ask several questions about your dizziness. If he or she suspects BPPV, a few quick tests are given. Once BPPV is confirmed, your therapist guides you through a series of movements called the modified Epley maneuver. These return the crystals to the proper part of the ear canal, restoring equilibrium.

This is successful 80 to 100 percent of the time, though some patients need a second treatment to clear it up completely. Your therapist will follow up in a week, then in a month to make sure it hasn’t returned. 

Cervical Vertigo

Another type of Vertigo easily treated by physical therapy is cervicogenic dizziness, commonly known as Cervical Vertigo.  Symptoms include lightheadedness, a “swimmy” feeling, unsteadiness walking, and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms are usually worse during head movements or when sustaining neck positions. 

Cervical Vertigo is related to the cervical spine. It often occurs because of a flexion-extension injury, such as whiplash. But it can also be caused by a sports injury, arthritis, or surgery. Symptoms usually occur after the onset of neck pain and are often accompanied by a headache. Sometimes the dizziness lasts for hours.

“I never knew when these spells would come on or how long they would last. When they did, everything shut down. Now, thanks to my therapist at Results, they don’t bother me at all."

Treating Cervical Vertigo

Gentle mobilization of the neck through hands-on, manual therapy, along with exercise and instruction in proper posture and neck use, improves approximately 75 percent of patients.

In certain cases, vestibular retraining is also needed. This may include the need to learn exercises in Gaze Stabilization, Balance Training, and Habituation.

Other causes of dizziness

General dizziness can be caused by several things, many of them medical. They could include problems with blood pressure, blood sugar (as in diabetes), and reactions to medication. Neurological causes can include problems with the central nervous system, vascular system, or vision. In some cases, dizziness are caused by psychiatric issues. 

We can help with Vertigo

Every Results Physiotherapy clinic has a therapist specifically trained to treat BPPV and cervicogenic dizziness.  If you are experiencing these symptoms or know someone who has, contact Results for an evaluation. 

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