The Dizzying Facts on Vertigo

Do you ever feel unsteady, light-headed, dizzy or nauseated?  If you feel like you are swirling round and round in a tornado or that you are moving up and down in a boat, you may have vertigo. This sensation can be very disturbing and may increase the risk of falling.  If you’ve been diagnosed with vertigo, you’re not alone.  Vertigo is best described as a false sensation of movement that affects more than 40 percent of people over age 40, according to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.  This condition stems from problems in the inner ear or in the brain or spinal cord.

The Vertigo Breakdown

Vertigo can range in severity from just annoying to seriously debilitating.  Causes of vertigo can stem from anxiety disorders, migraines, inner ear problems, brain disorders or underlying medical conditions such as heart problems, low blood pressure or infection.  Common symptoms of vertigo may include:

  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Arm or leg weakness
  • A change in alertness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing or other sounds in the ears
  • Trouble hearing
  • Feeling faint
  • A sensation of movement (including spinning)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Unusual eye movements
  • A staggering gait
  • Light-headedness

So How Can Physical Therapy Help Vertigo?

Treatment of vertigo depends on the cause of the dizziness.  Our physical therapists will work with you to develop a unique and customized treatment plan just for you and your specific needs.  Your physical therapist will use special tests to confirm vertigo and use specific exercises and maneuvers to help.

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One of the most effective types of physical therapy is vestibular rehabilitation therapy or VRT.  This technique is designed to speed up the process of compensating for a damaged balance center.  Although balance can be restored naturally by the body, some vertigo sufferers are unable to compensate and the body can start to rely too heavily on its other senses to try and coordinate movement.

This is where VRT comes in.  The power of exercise helps the body to understand how to use its other systems to correct balance problems.  Some of these exercises may include:

  • Exercises designed to improve your balance
  • Exercises to improve your ability to focus your eyes and vision
  • Exercises to help the brain “correct” differences between your inner ears
  • Exercises to improve your flexibility, strength and your heart health
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