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  • Writer's pictureDavid Wilderman

Round And Round And Round... Can Anything Be Done About Vertigo?

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Many individuals confuse “vertigo” with “dizziness.” While there are similarities, vertigo is usually described as a spinning sensation, while dizziness is usually described as lightheadedness. Often, they have different causes and different treatments.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation of spinning, even if you are not moving and you’re perfectly still. This can happen if you’re standing, sitting, or even lying down–you may feel like the room is moving about you. The primary cause of vertigo stems from the inner ear, known as our vestibular system. There are a number of factors that can cause vertigo, including:

  • Inner ear infections/disorders

  • Head injury, such as a concussion

  • A hole in the inner ear

  • Tumors (such as an acoustic neuroma)

  • Migraine headaches

  • Stroke

  • Surgery that injures the inner ear or its nerves

Other Symptoms of Vertigo Include...

  • Nausea

  • Abnormal eye movements

  • sweating

  • vomiting

What is BPPV, and Whether or Not its Causing Your Symptoms?

BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, is a very common form of vertigo that is caused by an inner ear problem that results in short periods of a spinning sensation when your head is moved in certain positions. Your Physical Therapist should ask some of the following questions to help determine a cause of your vertigo and to plan the best course of treatment:

  • When did the vertigo (spinning sensation) first start?

  • What position(s) are you in when the spinning starts? (e.g., rolling over in bed, bending over to tie your shoes, turning to look over your shoulder, or even standing/sitting perfectly still).

  • How long does the spinning sensation last? (e.g., seconds, minutes, or longer).

  • Do you have ringing in the ears, hearing loss, or a feeling of “fullness” in your ears?

  • Are you experiencing nausea with the spinning?

  • Have you had vertigo before?

  • Do you feel like your heart is racing, or you are noticing a change in your breathing pattern?

Your Physical Therapist will perform certain tests to try and recreate the symptoms of vertigo, as well as assess your risk of falling. Depending on the results, your Physical Therapist may recommend further testing or a consultation with your physician.

How can Physical Therapy Help with Vertigo Caused by BPPV?

Based on the outcome of findings from your Physical Therapy evaluation and your goals for recovery, your Physical Therapist should customize a treatment plan specifically for you. The main focus of Physical Therapy treatment is to help you get moving again and to manage your symptoms at the same time. Treatment will most likely include specialized head and neck movements, gaze stabilization exercise designed to help your eyes and ears work together, and other exercises to help eliminate your symptoms. If you experience dizziness and balance problems after your vertigo has stopped, your Physical Therapist can develop a treatment plan and program that targets those problems. You should also be instructed in strategies to help you cope with your symptoms, such as certain activities or household chores that cause dizziness or fatigue.

What are Somethings Physical Therapy can Address?

Physical Therapy treatments for vertigo or dizziness can take many forms. The type of exercise and program your Physical Therapist designs for you will depend on your individual problems and findings and may include:

  • Exercises to help the brain “correct” differences in your inner ear

  • Exercises to improve your ability to focus your eyes and vision

  • Exercises to improve your balance

Your Physical Therapist will also, in addition to the above, most likely prescribe exercises to improve your strength, flexibility, and your heart health–with the overall goal being to improve your overall physical health and well being.

Are There Any Red Flags You Should be Concerned About?

If you have vertigo accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, immediately call 911 or Emergency Medical Services (EMS):

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Double vision

  • A change in alertness

  • Arm or leg weakness

  • Inability to walk

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs and symptoms of vertigo, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help you. Don’t delay–schedule now!

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

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