Physiotherapy Treatment for Dizziness and Vertigo

Posted on: June 11th, 2019 by Pro Active No Comments

Many people are not aware that physiotherapy can help relieve dizziness and vertigo, yet this is exactly the role of vestibular physiotherapy – to determine the cause of vestibular disorder and treat the resultant symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, imbalance or issues with gaze stability. 

Physiotherapy for Dizziness and Vertigo

35% of people over age 40 and 80% of people over age 65 have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction. To understand what vestibular physiotherapy can help, it’s important to distinguish between dizziness and vertigo; dizziness refers to a variety of sensations that can include swaying or feeling light headed or disorientated, whereas vertigo is a specific form of dizziness in which one feels the illusion of movement around them, often described as a spinning sensation. Commonly vertigo is noticed with head movements (looking up, rotating the head), lying down, rolling in bed, bending forward, or getting up from laying down – many people notice it getting on and off equipment at the gym, for example.  

There are various causes of vestibular disorders, including age related degeneration, head trauma (whiplash, concussion), tightness of the muscles and joints in the neck, ear infections (including neuritis, labyrinthitis), Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV) or cardiovascular or neurological dysfunction. It is a good idea to speak with your doctor regarding your symptoms to rule out other possible medical contributors. 

Assessment from a physiotherapist trained in vestibular therapy can help to determine what is causing vestibular symptoms and will include evaluating balance and gait, vision screening, and specific tests for BPPV and motion sensitivity (dizziness provoked by movement).

Treatment will then be individualized based on assessment findings. Treatment for BPPV involves repositioning maneuvers, which help to relocate the sensors in the inner ear that are causing the sensation of movement when you aren’t actually moving. When dizziness is cervicogenic, or related to the neck, manual therapy of the joints and muscles can help to decrease symptoms, as well as exercises for neck coordination and postural control. Balance retraining exercises may be helpful, or specific exercises to train the visual and vestibular systems.  

If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, a physiotherapist trained in vestibular physiotherapy can help you determine the causes of your symptoms and create an individualized treatment plan to address your dizziness or vertigo.

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