Vertigo is often described as a feeling a spinning, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea or loss of balance. What causes it? It can be caused from inflammation to the vestibular nerve, inner ear dysfunction or another neurological problem. Some of the symptoms are blurred vision, sensation of the person spinning or the environment spinning, ringing in the ears, nausea and loss of balance. These symptoms have a profound effect on quality of life and can be very disabling to a person suffering from this.
Vertigo is a catch-all phrase for many kinds of dysfunctions. It is therefore important to get the correct diagnosis. Your physical therapist in conjunction with an Ear Nose and Throat doctor will be able to run tests to determine what is causing your symptoms. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) causes severe sensation of spinning. According to its name, symptoms only occur in very specific head positions. It is caused by the otoconia, or crystals in inner ear becoming dislodged from the utricle and get stuck in a semi-circular canal. There are sensors in the semi-circular canals that get stimulated by the floating crystals and give the sensation of spinning to the brain. It can be diagnosed by a specially trained PT and is treated with a simple maneuver to move the crystals out of the canals and back into the utricle.
There are other diagnoses associated with inner ear dysfunction including Meniere’s, vestibulitis and labrynthitis. A specially trained practitioner should be able to differentially diagnose between the different causes of vertigo. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is a specialized form of therapy to treat both the primary and secondary problems caused by vestibular issues. Therapy will work on habituation exercises, gaze stabilization and balance training. Our ability to balance is governed by 3 separate systems in the body. The vestibular system (inner ear), visual system and proprioception are a redundant system so that if one is not working we are still able to balance and function. For instance, in a dark room, most people can keep their balance. Walking on sand or a soft surface doesn’t cause most people to lose their balance either. When one system is not working properly, the other 2 systems can be up-trained to pick up the slack. This is a key concept in VRT.
If you suffer from loss of balance, dizziness, ringing in the ears or spinning sensation, find a PT trained specifically in Vestibular Rehab. You don’t have to live with these debilitating symptoms.
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