Do you ever get that dizzy, room-spinning feeling?
Do you ever feel as though you are swaying or unbalanced, even while standing still?
You may be experiencing vertigo.
Vertigo is a type of dizziness where you feel like you or your surroundings are moving or spinning when they aren’t.
Vertigo and dizziness are common complaints. In fact, The Australian Physiotherapy Association estimate that at least 5 percent of Australia’s population will experience dizziness at some point in their lives.
Experiencing dizziness or vertigo can be debilitating. For some, vertigo can impact their ability to function in everyday life. Many struggle daily with the symptoms of vertigo and dizziness and don’t know that their condition may be improved by seeing an experienced physiotherapist.
If you’re suffering from regular symptoms of dizziness or vertigo and you’re wondering how physiotherapy could help, then you’re in the right place.
Here will discuss common vertigo causes and vertigo symptoms. We will also explain how the team at The Brisbane Spine Clinic can provide support.
What Causes Vertigo
There are two different types of vertigo, peripheral vertigo which results from a problem in the balance centre of the inner ear, and central vertigo which results from a problem in the brain.
There are many causes for both types of vertigo including:
- Meniere’s Disease– excessive fluid build-up in the inner ear causing pressure, dizziness, and hearing loss.
- Viral Infections– inflammation caused by infection of the vestibular nerve or the inner ear can impact balance.
- Vestibular Migraines- may cause dizziness and severe vertigo that can last a few minutes or a few days.
- Head and Neck Injuries- trauma to the head can cause vertigo, particularly if the vestibular system is injured.
- Tinnitus- ringing in the ears may contribute to dizziness.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)- The most common cause of vertigo, BPPV is a problem in your inner ear that occurs when the calcium carbonate crystals, known as otoconia, are dislodged and move from where they belong in the utricle out into the semicircular canals of the inner ear. This disturbs the flow of liquid in the inner ear and alters the messages relating to balance that are sent to your brain.
The brain then becomes confused as it receives messages from the affected inner ear that don’t match the messages it’s receiving from your other ear, your muscles, or your eyes. These mismatched messages can cause your brain to experience dizziness or vertigo.
The good news is many of the above-mentioned vertigo causes may respond well to vestibular physiotherapy.
Source: Blausen.com staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014". WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29025011
The main symptom of vertigo is the feeling that you are spinning, or that your surroundings are spinning. Vertigo can also cause imbalance, nausea, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, light-headedness, or feeling faint.
Vertigo symptoms may come on suddenly with any movement of the head like rolling over in your bed, changing from a laying to a standing position, turning to look over your shoulder, or looking down quickly.
Physiotherapy for vertigo, how we can help you
Vertigo treatment options will depend on what’s causing your symptoms.
At The Brisbane Spine Clinic, our physiotherapists can assess and treat vestibular dysfunction. We can also screen for other causes of vertigo or dizziness and refer you to a general practitioner for further testing and treatment where required.
Vertigo caused by disorders of the vestibular system (BPPV, inner ear infections, and vestibular migraine) can often be treated successfully by vestibular physiotherapy.
Some common physiotherapy techniques for treating vertigo and dizziness resulting from vestibular dysfunction include:
- Habituation exercises– movements designed to reduce dizziness by intentionally causing dizziness to desensitise your vestibular system to those movements.
- Balance and gait exercises– exercises to increase steadiness and balance when walking by challenging and strengthening the vestibular system.
- Eye-head coordination exercises– to ease dizziness and help with focus.
- Re-positioning techniques– used for BPPV, this involves a series of manoeuvres aiming to guide dislodged crystals back to where they should be, using gravity.
Your physiotherapist can provide you with a series of exercises, tailored to your specific needs. These exercises will be performed at home, often up to three times daily during the treatment period.
While many exercise programs online are claiming to solve vertigo and dizziness, it is not recommended you try these before consulting with a professional. You must undertake the correct treatment, specific to your own condition. Generalised vertigo exercise programs may cause more harm than good and possibly worsen your symptoms.
The Brisbane Spine Clinic is ready to help
Experiencing vertigo and dizziness can be debilitating as well as detrimental to your well-being, your confidence, and even at times your safety. Our team at The Brisbane Spine Clinic is committed to working with you to find the cause of your vertigo symptoms and create a treatment program individualized for you.
If you’re suffering from symptoms of dizziness or vertigo, book an appointment with one of our team at The Brisbane Spine Clinic.
All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The physiotherapists at The Brisbane Spine Clinic can consult with you regarding your individual health needs.
Australian Physiotherapy Association. (2023). Choose Physio for Dizziness and Vertigo.
Health Direct. (2022). Vertigo. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vertigo
Physiopedia. (2023). Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV).
The Vestibular Disorders Association. (2022). Canalith Repositioning Procedure for BPPV.