Dizziness and vertigo are common issues that lead patients to seek medical care. Dizziness can be caused by a myriad of things, including a change in medication or improper glasses prescription, but vertigo is usually a little more specific. Whether it’s caused by issues with your cervical spine or loose crystals in your ear canal, physical therapy can effectively treat and help minimize the symptoms of vertigo.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a sense of rotation, rocking, moving, or spinning experienced even when someone is perfectly still. It is often made worse by movement of the head or body and symptoms may include lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting. Depending on the patient and the cause, when vertigo occurs it may last for hours or even weeks and prevent you from functioning in your day to day life.

What Causes Vertigo?

Generically, vertigo is caused by a problem with the inner ear, the part of your body that controls your sense of balance. BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is one of the most common causes of vertigo and occurs when tiny calcium particles clump up in the canals of your inner ear. This is often known as “loose crystals” because it is the movement of these calcium particles that disrupt your balance. Other causes of vertigo may include infections, vascular impairment, or spinal issues. Physical therapy may not be able to solve all of these problems (like infections), but it is a great way to treat BPPV and other common causes of dizziness.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

If you are experiencing dizziness, a physical therapist will be able to help determine if your symptoms are caused by BPPV or some other issue and recommend a treatment from there. They use simple head movements and watching your eyes for involuntary movements called nystagmus. It is a completely noninvasive test and only takes a few minutes.

What If My Vertigo is Caused by BPPV?

Physical therapy is the most commonly recommended treatment for BPPV and can usually resolve the issue in just a couple of visits. They use a series of noninvasive exercises to help the loose calcium particles relocated back to the utricle (a.k.a. where they are supposed to be). This completely resolves most patient’s symptoms about 90-95 percent of the time.

What If My Dizziness is Not Caused by BPPV?

One of the other great benefits of seeing a physical therapist for your vertigo is that they will help you find coping mechanisms that will eliminate the symptoms of dizziness much more quickly, allowing you to return to daily life with ease. If your doctor is still trying to fight off the infection, why suffer through hours or days of potentially debilitating dizziness when a physical therapist can help you move past those symptoms? This doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need to seek additional medical help, but it will make your life much more comfortable while they try to solve the problem.

What’s Next?

If vertigo is turning your world upside town, visit our website or call our office (703-753-0261) today to make an appointment. Our expert staff would love to help you get to the root of the problem quickly and can help determine the course of treatment that is best.

“After almost three weeks of throbbing head pain, dizziness, and being non-functional, Dr. Robert Woelkers at Haymarket Physical Therapy was able to relieve my vertigo symptoms in two sessions. Other health providers couldn’t figure out my problem and so I went to him (direct access without a referral in VA). I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Rob and his capable and friendly team for helping me get back on my feet after this debilitating situation. I highly recommend him to anyone in need of treating dizziness and vertigo symptoms. Thank you, Dr. Rob!” – Nathan S.
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