Resolving Dizziness and Other Inner-Ear Problems With the Help of Your Physical Therapist
Dizziness and vertigo are common issues that lead patients to seek medical care. The cause of dizziness can be something small like a change in medication or improper glasses prescription to something more complex like a neurological condition.
Vertigo is a sense of rotation, rocking, moving, or spinning experienced even when someone is perfectly still. Movement of the head or body can worsen the symptoms of vertigo, which include lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting. When vertigo occurs, it may last for hours or even days before resolving.
What Causes Vertigo?
There are dozens of causes of vertigo, including:
- Central nervous system issues such as stroke or tumor
- Cervical spine issues
- Vascular impairment
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular neuritis
- Inner-ear infections
- BPPV or “loose crystals”
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), or “loose crystals,” is a very common cause of vertigo and is due to a mechanical change in the inner ear. When crystals become dislodged and travel into one of the semicircular canals, it disrupts the fluid creating a false sense of movement. This is why alterations in head position such as looking up or down, lying in bed, or rolling over will cause vertigo sensation. Studies have shown that 2 to 3 percent of the population is at risk for loose crystals. Older women are particularly at risk.
Not all forms of vertigo come from BPPV, but it is very easy to diagnose and treat. A physical therapist can determine if you have BPPV by performing the Dix-Hallpike test. This noninvasive test takes only minutes to confirm if your vertigo is coming from crystals in the inner ear through simple head movements and watching the eyes for involuntary movements called nystagmus. The direction of eye movements will indicate where crystals are loose in the inner ear so the therapist can perform the treatment.
How Is BPPV Treated?
Physical Therapy is the No. 1 treatment for BPPV. It can usually be completely resolved in one or two visits through use of the Epley Maneuver, a non-invasive treatment with very positive outcomes.
Epley’s, developed by Dr. John Epley in 1980, is used to treat BPPV of the posterior canal of the ear. It works by allowing the free-floating particles from the affected semicircular canal to be relocated by gravity back to the utricle, resolving vertigo approximately 90-95 percent of the time.
Once BPPV is resolved through appropriate treatment, patients often don’t need to come back for further treatment, but many will follow up with balance training tailored for inner-ear problems, such as eye tracking, balancing on various surfaces, and walking with head turns. At CORA, our clinicians are trained to screen for things such as neck or back injuries, vascular conditions, or retinal detachment to ensure that Epley’s is a safe treatment option for you.
Is Vertigo Turning Your World Upside Down?
Are you struggling with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo? Our professionals are experienced in treating this debilitating condition and can often resolve the issue in a single visit. To get the relief you need, schedule an appointment at one of our conveniently located physical therapy clinics today.