Vertigo is a type of dizziness that causes a sensation of spinning, swaying or tilting. The symptoms often get worse with a change in position.
Dizziness is a symptom rather than a disease and can cause light-headedness, sensations of feeling unsteady and being off-balance or faint..
3 Main Types Of Vertigo And Their Causes
There are three main types of vertigo and dizziness that a vestibular physiotherapist can help with. These include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis and cervical (neck-related) vertigo.
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Vertigo, one of the more commonly diagnosed vestibular disorders. It’s often the results of an inner ear problem called BPPV. This happens when small calcium particles come loose from where they’re normally held: in a fixed position in the inner ear. These particles move around where they should not be moving: in the semicircular canals.These canals control your balance and give you positional orientation. This affects signals sent from the inner ear to the brain, resulting in vestibular symptoms.
- Vestibular Neuritis
Also in the inner ear is a condition called vestibular neuritis, also known as a vestibulopathy. This inner ear condition goes by many names but it is essentially just an irritation to the nerve that is responsible for bringing information between your inner ear to your brain. This information is what maintains your sense of balance.This condition can occur without warning and may or may not be caused by a recent viral illness. Your general practitioner can provide acute management through medication to calm the sensitivity of your nerve condition.After a few weeks, this medication should be ceased.As an after-treatment, your physiotherapist can design a physical therapy program that involves retraining your balance to compensate for the nerve injury. This will help correct your nervous system.
- Cervical Dizziness
Cervical (neck) dizziness is a condition which is seen in some individuals when they develop stiffness and dysfunction in the upper neck. Some patients may not even complain of neck stiffness or pain, they may just complain of the dizziness. Manual treatment to the neck region as well as correction of any ergonomic, postural dysfunction or muscle weakness will usually assist with this condition.
Other causes of vertigo include:
- head injuries,
- inner ear disorders,
- low blood pressure,
- low blood sugar,
- degeneration of the inner ear structures and
- circulation problems.
Some inner-ear disorders which are due to swelling or infections in the inner ear include Meniere’s disease and labyrinthitis. Physiotherapists are trained to rule out highly-destructive disorders and other sinister causes of dizziness. They do this by employing a series of screening questions and a thorough clinical assessment. If concerns of a structural nature arise, your Perth physiotherapist will refer you on for further investigations such as medical imaging.
Vertigo can be difficult to deal with. Learn more about vertigo and dizziness and how vestibular physiotherapy can help.
The inner ear monitors your head movement and its position. The inner ear is made up of five sensory organs; two otolith organs and three semicircular canals filled with fluid. As the head moves, the fluid inside the canals moves, telling the brain the direction of the movement including how far and how fast. The brain uses this information to coordinate the movements of your eyes, neck and head to maintain your balance.
The symptoms of vertigo or dizziness can vary, however, some of the most common symptoms include:
- A spinning or swaying feeling
- Feeling unbalanced
- Feeling faint
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of coordination
There are several assessment techniques that are used to diagnose a patient’s vertigo and determine the cause, some of these may include:
- Examining eye movements
- Positional testing
- Medical history
- Checking blood pressure
- CT or MRI scan of the inner ear
- Hearing test
- Balance test
Treatment for vertigo will depend on the cause, which requires diagnosis by a professional. Some of the potential vestibular rehabilitation therapy for vertigo include:
- Canalith positioning exercises – a physical therapy which involves several head manoeuvres used for BPPV to help with removing inner ear crystals
- Balance exercises – to retrain the vestibular system
- Medication – such as migraine or anti-nausea medication
- Cognitive behaviour therapy – when anxiety is a factor
- Manual therapy and exercise for the head neck in the case of cervicogenic vertigo – vertigo caused by neck dysfunction
Vestibular therapy in Como is an effective treatment option for vertigo and dizziness, especially when the symptoms are made worse by movements or changes in position. Quite often, vertigo symptoms that are made worse by movement are caused by a disorder involving the inner ear. Vestibular therapy can assist with these inner ear disorders: vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Physiotherapy can also treat cervicogenic vertigo (symptoms originating from the neck).
Recovery time will vary from patient to patient and may also depend on the cause. There are a number of factors which will determine how long it will take to recover including:
- how long the symptoms have been present
- the severity of the symptoms
- how often you perform the recovery exercises
- any other medical problems present