If you’ve ever experienced dizziness or vertigo, you know just how uncomfortable and disruptive it can be. Unfortunately, vestibular conditions like dizziness and vertigo are fairly common and can take a toll on your life. Luckily, there are many safe and effective treatments for vertigo and dizziness, including physiotherapy and medication, depending on the cause.
What’s the Difference Between Dizziness and Vertigo?
Dizziness and vertigo are very similar and can bring about the same feeling of discomfort and unsteadiness, however, there are some differences. Dizziness tends to refer to the feelings of lightheadedness, feeling unstable or giddy and disorientated. Vertigo, on the other hand, refers to the sensation of you or your surroundings spinning.
Vertigo is almost always caused by a vestibular condition, whereas dizziness is a more general symptom that can arise for any number of reasons including vestibular conditions, issues with the neck, concussion, psychological concerns, flu, and more.
What are the Symptoms of Vestibular Conditions?
In addition to dizziness and/or vertigo, vestibular conditions, in particular, can come with many other symptoms. These include:
- Issues with focus and concentration – especially when reading or using computers/screens.
- Balance issues.
- Feeling faint.
- Being unable to function normally – not being able to walk without risk of falling or feeling unstable, having to stay sitting or laying down, etc.
- Nausea or feeling generally ill.
Of course, if you are experiencing dizziness due to a particular health issue such as the flu, you may experience other symptoms associated with that illness as well.
What can Your Physiotherapist Do to Treat Vestibular Conditions and Dizziness?
Once your dizziness and/or vertigo have been assessed by your primary care physician, physiotherapy may be recommended. Seeking help with your vestibular condition and dizziness from a reputable clinic such as Emerald Hills Physio & Sport Clinic can help with recovery and symptom management. In particular, physiotherapy for vestibular concerns will typically involve a thorough assessment, customized treatment and home care instructions.
A full evaluation is necessary to determine exactly how vertigo and/or dizziness are presenting for you. This will include determining what positions and movements trigger the most discomfort and symptoms, what positions and movements relieve symptoms (if any), assessment of balance and ability to perform basic daily tasks, and visual functions. Using the results of these assessments your physiotherapist will create a custom treatment plan to address your concerns.
Treatment and Exercises
Depending on your particular experience of vertigo and/or dizziness your physiotherapist may use a combination of treatments and exercises. These may include:
- The Epley manoeuvre typically addresses concerns associated with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
- Exercises to help with dizziness.
- Balance retraining.
- Eye-head coordination exercises to improve focus.
- Habituation exercises to help with everyday activities.
Just like with any other condition treated with physiotherapy, home care is an important extension of the treatment plan. Homecare for vestibular conditions and dizziness may include demonstrations of how to do the Epley manoeuver at home by yourself or with the help of someone else, custom exercises to help regain balance and proper functioning while reducing symptoms of vertigo/dizziness.
How Long Until I Feel Better?
How long it takes for you to recover from your symptoms or vestibular condition will vary depending on the cause. Recovery from BPPV using the Epley Maneuver can be as quick as one or two visits but may take weeks or months using the maneuver and other physiotherapy techniques. Other vestibular conditions may take 3-6 weeks to see improvement with a combination of physiotherapy and homecare. Your physiotherapist will give you a general idea of how long it may take to see results after your assessment and treatment plan is made.
What Vestibular Conditions Benefit from Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy has been shown to be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions resulting in vertigo and dizziness but vestibular physiotherapy can be used to treat the following common conditions to name a few:
- BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo which results from the shifting of the calcium crystals in your ear.
- Meniere’s Disease which involves a fluid imbalance in the inner ear.
- Labyrinthitis which is a viral inflammation of the innermost part of the ear.
- Vertigo that is caused by damage to the central nervous system from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), stroke, etc.
- Vertigo or dizziness that remains after flu or illness.
If you’re experiencing vertigo or dizziness as the result of vestibular or other conditions, there’s no need to suffer from the discomfort and decrease in functioning. Physiotherapy is a safe and proven treatment for vestibular concerns and dizziness that can help reduce recovery time and manage symptoms.