Where does Vertigo come from?
Vertigo is commonly known as dizziness. It can come from a variety of conditions or problems with the ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway. Dizziness can occur at any age, but is commonly seen among those aged 65 years or older. Vertigo can be temporary or long term. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV is a common cause of vertigo. It is where symptoms of dizziness are sudden, intense, and related to a specific position. BPPV is where small crystals, or otolith particles, in the inner ear are disturbed. These crystals in the inner ear fluid pull on sensory hair cells during movement to stimulate the vestibular nerve to send positional information to the brain. BPPV is caused when the fluid of the inner ear continues moving after the head has stopped. BPPV may result from a head injury, dementia, reduced blood flow in the brain, labyrinthitis, ear surgery, or prolonged bed rest. Vertigo is also associated with acute vestibular neuritis, and Meniere’s syndrome.
What are symptoms of Vertigo?
Individuals with dizziness, or vertigo, will feel as though they are spinning or the environment they are in is spinning. Vertigo may involve additional symptoms such as: balance problems, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, a sense of motion sickness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or a feeling of fullness in the ear. Symptoms can last a few minutes and up to a few hours or more, and may come and go.
How does physical therapy help?
Physical therapists can provide vestibular rehabilitation. This type of physical therapy can help strengthen the vestibular system. The function of the vestibular system is to send signals to the brain about where the head and body are relative to gravity. Physical therapists can perform testing to determine if you have BPPV, which will then guide treatment. Physical therapists help decrease vertigo by using techniques such as the Epley maneuver, or canalith repositioning techniques. The Epley maneuver is used to move particles from one part of the fluid in the inner ear to an open area of the ear, where they are more easily resorbed. Those who experience dizziness should avoid driving, using a ladder, or looking upward. Physical therapy can help patients safely return to their daily lives, and decrease their risk for falling.