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Treating Vertigo with Physical Therapy

Posted by Brian Spence on Aug 31, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Vertigo, Physical Therapy, Allied HealthFeeling dizzy, as if you are moving when you're not, is vertigo. It can be accompanied by nausea, headaches and sweating, and may involve jerking eye movements. It's more than annoying and can seriously affect the quality of life. It can trigger, or be triggered by, migraines.

Physical therapists treat patients with vertigo every day. The cause of the condition varies and so do the treatments. Peripheral vertigo is caused by a problem in the inner ear; central vertigo stems from the brain. 

Peripheral Vertigo - Crystals

The most common type is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). The cause is tiny calcium carbonate crystals in your inner ear that escape their designated area, suspended in a jelly-like substance in the inner ear, and migrate out to parts of the ear where they cause trouble. The crystals tell your brain what your physical position is, but when they are not where they are supposed to be, they give your brain the wrong signals, telling it you are moving when you're not, and that causes vertigo.

Fixing BPPV is a fairly simple and overwhelmingly successful procedure. Simple exercises that direct the crystals back into the correct area of the inner ear can bring relief in as little as two sessions with a PT. It will probably go away on it's own, but not for weeks at least. Best to seek help.

Known as the Epley maneuver, a PT will lead your through a series of head movements that force the offending crystals away from your inner ear to be absorbed elsewhere. You will lie down, turn your head to different positions, sit up, hang your head over the edge of the table for 20 seconds or more. Most people find that this resolves their vertigo. 

Three other similar therapies are the Sermont and Foster Maneuvers, and the Brandt-Daroff Exercise, all of which have proven successful.

Central Vertigo

Central vertigo has additional symptoms to dizziness and nausea; it may also cause mobility problems and slurred speech and blurry vision. The symptoms and the causes are more serious than BPPV. Something in the back part of the brain is malfunctioning.

It's imperative to get an accurate diagnosis. Then your physician can treat the underlying cause. The culprit will not be crystals, but could be anything from mild head trauma to serious brain disease. It will not go away untreated.

Demand for Physical Therapists is growing every year. Thinking of making a career move? We have positions in physical therapy and other allied health fields. We are a valuable staffing resource for professionals and clinicians.

To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog

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