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Vertigo

What is it?

Vertigo is described as a sensation of spinning while stationary of either the person (subjective vertigo) or their surrounding environment (objective vertigo). Vertigo and its associated symptoms are due to a dysfunction of the vestibular system in the inner ear. The most common causes are Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and Vestibular Migraines while less common causes include Meniere’s disease, Vestibular Neuritis, head trauma or complications from Diabetes. Moving the head, changing position and turning while lying down often worsen vertigo. Although vertigo is a type of dizziness, not all dizziness can be classified as vertigo.

What are the Signs & Symptoms?

  • Sensation of spinning, tilting, rocking or falling
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Abnormal eye movements

May also have:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Lowered level of consciousness
  • Hearing loss (or ringing sensation in the ears)

How can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapy can be very beneficial for the management of vertigo. Depending on the cause of the vertigo several different treatment approaches can be used. Vestibular rehabilitation helps to retrain the brain to recognise and coordinate the information provided by our sensory system with the vestibular system.

Physiotherapists can provide education about activities that can trigger vertigo and how to modify them in everyday life. Also, people with vertigo can often have a degree of balance dysfunction which needs to be assessed and treated as needed. Desensitizing exercises and repositioning manoeuvres are used to manage the symptoms of vertigo while the underlying cause is being addressed.