Feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo can sometimes be worse than dealing with a musculoskeletal injury, such as a sprained ankle. Dizziness and vertigo can affect every single aspect of your life. Not only may you feel nauseous and off balance, but your quality of life can be greatly impacted.
While you may feel alone, it is estimated that ⅓ of American adults will experience vestibular dysfunction at some point in their lifetime. But don’t worry, Physical Therapy that specializes in vestibular rehabilitation has been found to be very successful in the treatment of dizziness, vertigo, and other related vestibular issues.
What is our Vestibular System?
Our vestibular system provides sensory information and is found in our inner ear. It includes the:
- Utricle - detects gravity and linear movement.
- Saccule - detects gravity and linear movement.
- 3 Semicircular Canals - detects rotational movement.
All of these work together to send information about head motion and orientation to our brain for processing so that the rest of our body can move around appropriately.
The vestibular system works with our eyes, muscles, and joints to help us stay balanced, upright, safe, and free of dizziness or vertigo.
Dizziness Versus Vertigo
It can be hard to know what you are experiencing at times as dizziness and vertigo may seem very similar.
Dizziness is typically described as feeling lightheaded and off balance. This is because your spatial awareness or knowing where your body is in space may be affected. This can be caused by a vestibular issue or by other medical conditions such as low blood pressure, side effects of medication, dehydration, or low blood sugar.
Vertigo is typically described as having the sensation that your body or your surrounding environment is spinning. You may feel nauseous or may even become sick. You may lean or fall to one side or the other. Standing and walking may be very difficult, and you can lose your balance without warning. Vertigo is usually caused by a vestibular issue, and can come on all of a sudden, based on the activity of the vestibular system in either of your inner ears.
Others symptoms related to vestibular dysfunction, along with dizziness and vertigo include:
- Sensitivity to light and noise.
- Difficulty focusing your eyes.
- Problems using screens such as a TV screen, phone screen, or computer screen.
- Trouble reading and concentrating.
- Feeling sick while driving in a car or using an elevator.
But no matter what is causing your dizziness, vertigo, or other related symptoms, the most challenging aspect of having a disorder of your vestibular system is the fact that you sometimes cannot even enjoy the little things in life because you feel so terrible.
And on a more serious note, balance problems associated with dizziness and vertigo lead to an increased fall risk which also leads to an increased risk of having another injury to work through.
What can cause Dizziness and Vertigo?
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Also known as BPPV, this disorder of the vestibular system is very common and can be very debilitating. As the name implies, a change in position can bring on vertigo symptoms. This is because any part of the vestibular system can be misfiring or not working as well as the opposite side.
As you go to lie down, look up into a cupboard, bend over, or really any other positional change, you may experience vertigo, either for a few seconds or for a few minutes.
Physical Therapy that specializes in vestibular rehabilitation can perform treatment to “reset” your inner ear, allowing your vestibular system to fire properly and work in sync on each side. With proper treatment patients feel better in 1-3 treatments.
This vestibular dysfunction comes on without really any known cause and people often describe it as an attack. Sudden onset of vertigo, balance disturbance, headaches, light or noise sensitivities, and even tinnitus can come on during these attacks.
There is most likely a buildup of pressure or fluid in the inner ear that causes these attacks.
Vestibular rehabilitation helps to treat the balance dysfunctions that can remain between bouts of the attacks, making you safer and decreasing your risk of any falls.
Also called labyrinthitis, this condition is caused by a viral infection that can cause hearing or vestibular function problems.
Recovery can happen more quickly if vestibular rehabilitation is started early. Physical Therapy can help you gain your movement, balance, and decrease your risk of falls.
Sometimes dizziness may come on from something other than a vestibular disorder such as your neck, for example. It is important to seek evaluation from a vestibular rehabilitation therapist to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
This type of dizziness is worse with head movements and holding a neck position for a long time. Stiffness of the neck, headaches, and lightheadedness are commonly experienced with this as well.
Physical Therapy can help to not only improve your dizziness and balance, but also your neck stiffness and posture to help stop this dizziness from returning.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Physical Therapy has been proven to be a successful form of treatment for vestibular disorders. Action Physical Therapy offers vestibular Physical Therapy. And with our certified vestibular therapist, you will experience top quality care and treatment.
At your first appointment you will receive a full evaluation and assessment. Your vestibular therapist will then create a plan of care that is individualized for your exact symptoms and diagnosis. Throughout this plan of care, you will work one on one with your therapist to improve your symptoms, gain your balance back, and most importantly gain your life back.
Special Equipment Used
At Action Physical Therapy in Huntington Valley, we have specialized vestibular rehabilitation equipment in order to be precise with your diagnosis and treatment. With the use of Frenzel Lenses, your eye movements can be accurately tracked and recorded on a big screen TV. This information helps your therapist know exactly what side of your vestibular system is involved and how to best treat your symptoms.
We also have the Biodex Balance Platform that is used to test and treat balance problems. This machine can assess what direction you tend to fall or lean towards and can track your progress over time.
Your Physical Therapist will work on balance exercises, positional movements to help retrain your vestibular system, range of motion of your head and neck, and can even help to retrain your eyes to focus better. It is amazing what our combination of top quality vestibular Physical Therapists and equipment can do to help you feel better, alleviate your symptoms, and help to stop them from returning.
So, if you are currently experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or any other related symptoms, reach out to us today. Why go another day feeling like this? Call 215-947-3443 to schedule your consultation with one of our vestibular Physical Therapists today.