Vertigo & Physiotherapy – is there relief?

4 May, 2020

Vertigo is a common form of dizziness which feels as if yourself or your surroundings are spinning. Vertigo is caused by pathologies affecting the inner ear, with the most common cause being Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

Other less common causes include migraines and Vestibular Neuritis (inflammation of your inner ear nerves). In this blog post on vertigo and physiotherapy, we will discuss the symptoms of BPPV, who is at most risk, what physiotherapy can do to assist and provide a little more background on exactly what vertigo is.

What is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?

BPPV is a common disorder of the inner ear’s vestibular system – a core foundation of our balance system. ‘Benign’ Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is just that – benign – which means that it is not life threatening or a highly progressive condition.

The most common cause of BBPV is due to when small salt crystals within your inner ear are affected, resulting in a spinning sensation upon certain movements in your head. This can occur idiopathically (randomly) or can occur following a trauma to the head.

Persisting dizziness after a motor vehicle accident is a common presentation of BPPV.

Vertigo & Physiotherapy

What are the symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo?

The symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo include:

  • Dizziness – seconds after a head movement and not lasting for long
  • Light headedness
  • Balance Problems
  • Nausea

Activities which can exacerbate your dizzy spell can vary depending on your presentation. Common activities include looking up, turning over one shoulder to drive, or rolling over in bed. These activities and movements are common in our every day lives and there is no need to be suffering with activities of daily living when the solution could be one call away.

Management of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Let’s take a look at vertigo and physiotherapy.

In terms of treatment for BPPV it is individualised depending on which of the semicircular canals has been identified by your clinician. After a thorough assessment, your practitioner may prescribe a technique similar to this one. A ‘repositioning’ technique such as this seeks to dislodge the salt crystals and promote a return to normal vestibular function.

This will result in less ‘dodgy firing’ of your vestibulocochlear nerve and a reduction in your symptoms. What is important to understand, is that these techniques are individualised for the presentation and just attempting the first exercise you find online is likely to make you feel worse! As a component of your assessment your therapist will identify the provocative movement patterns for your dizziness and can assist with teaching you how to best manage your symptoms.

Other considerations in this time include:
  • Before the dizziness, did you have poor balance? Implement strategies to reduce the risk of falls in the short term. Talk to your physiotherapist about this.
  • It is important to resume normal activities, as able. This will allow your body to resume exposure to the normal demands of day to day life and accelerate your recovery. Your physiotherapist can assist with a graded return to an activity program.

What to do now?

If you or somebody you love is suffering from symptoms of vertigo give us a call at Generation Physio & Allied Health, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. Unfortunately, BPPV is a condition which can reoccur. To minimise the chance of recurrence (even if you have suffered from vertigo in the past), an assessment by an experienced clinician is essential. All our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book our mobile physiotherapy services today!

Article written by Callum Sullivan

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