Vertigo: It isn’t always crystals in your ear!

Each year in the United States there are over 4 million emergency room patients with dizziness or vertigo. Every patient may describe their symptoms differently from feeling lightheaded, off balance, faint, or just feeling ‘off’.

Your vestibular system consists of a central system (brain and brainstem) and a peripheral system (inner ear and pathways). If either of these systems has dysfunction it can make you feel one of the symptoms above. Specialized imaging, such as an MRI, can identify what system is disrupted. Physical therapists are trained to use special tests in the clinic which can also help identify and treat these symptoms.

There are several ways the vestibular system can affect you!

BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)

Tiny crystals, called otoconia, float around in the canals of the inner ear. This disrupts the message to your brain of head movements. Changing position is most often the primary cause of symptoms. A physical therapist can test to determine which canal is affected and treat with positional movements.

Vestibular Loss

This can occur on one or both sides of the vestibular system. The message system regarding when your head is moving or at rest is disrupted. Treatment for this can make your symptoms worse temporarily, but will allow your system to reset and retrain. Consistency is key!

Central Vestibular Dysfunction

Information from the inner ear to the brain has a miscommunication.  Symptoms can be similar to an issue with the inner ear. Exercises to desensitize or habituate can eliminate symptoms.

Cervicogenic Dizziness

Muscles, joints, or ligaments can be causing neck pain or dizziness. Various techniques targeting the movement of these areas can reduce or eliminate discomfort.

Gait Abnormality

There is not always symptoms of dizziness listed previously. You can have feelings of fear of falling due to being unsteady, weak, or feeling ‘off’. Focus on specific strength and balance activities can improve this over time.

If you are experiencing vertigo or any other type of dizziness, physical therapy could help!

Call any of the Apex locations to schedule an evaluation or help assist you if a referral is necessary for your insurance.

Ready to start therapy? 

If you’re ready to start therapy to get your life back, contact us today and book your first session.

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