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Vertigo Physiotherapy: Symptoms & Treatment

Dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems are common complaints among individuals seeking physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help alleviate these symptoms by improving vestibular function, increasing strength and flexibility, and providing exercises to improve balance and coordination.

What is a Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance?

Dizziness, vertigo and imbalance are three common conditions that come sometimes be linked, but sometimes be completely separate conditions.

Dizziness can be described as light headedness, unsteadiness or disorientation. It can be a symptom of many different conditions and also illnesses.

Vertigo is a feeling that the room is spinning. It can be associated with vestibular (inner ear) disorders such as fluid, infection or inflammation in the ear canal or a shift in the tiny crystals that reside in your inner ear. It can also be associated with vascular issues (reduced blood flow to the brain), neck issues, concussion and psychological concerns.

Imbalance can be a result of both Dizziness and Vertigo or exist completely on it’s own. It can therefore be a function of any of the conditions or illnesses that cause dizziness or vertigo or it can simply be a declining level of balance, which is a normal symptom of aging.

What do Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance Feel Like?

All three symptoms or concerns can be incredibly disruptive to daily life and cause considerable alarm, frustration, depression and anxiety.

Dizziness feels like a disorientation with the world around you.

Vertigo is a feeling that the world is spinning around you.

Imbalance is a feeling of inability to maintain an upright position, which becomes more difficult with challenge, such as walking or standing on one foot.

How is Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance Diagnosed?

Research indicated that vestibular disorders are responsible for at least half of dizziness and vertigo complaints, but many cases are poorly diagnosed.

A quick way to check if the inner ear is involved, is to see if you find that your symptoms of vertigo and dizziness are worsened or triggered by sudden or quick movement. If they are, there is a good chance that the problem resides in the inner ear.

A trained profession such as your doctor or Physiotherapist can effectively assess you through a thorough history taking and a series of tests to determine not only the nature of your symtoms, but also the underlying cause.

How Can Physiotherapy Help with Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance?

Treating the Underlying Cause of Symptoms

Inner ear crystal location reasons are very effectively treated with Vestibular Physiotherapy. Your Physiotherapist will take you through some very specific testing and treatment to relocate the crystals to the correct location. They may also prescribe some balance and visual exercises to help improve your situation. Treatment will aim to desensitize the vestibular system to the movements that cause symptoms, improve focus and reduce dizziness, and strengthen the vestibular balance system to improve balance when moving.

If the problem is not inner ear, but is related to concussion, neck or head muscular or vascular tension, your treatment will include manual therapy to free up the area around the base of the skull, skull bones and muscles and joints of the neck. Exercises will be prescribed to assist in these goals and also to work on balance and visual exercises related to balance.

Symptom management

Treating underlying causes will have the biggest effect on symptoms. Your Physiotherapist may also be able to provide some manual therapy and exercises or even recommendations for positions to simply alleviate some of your symptoms.

Return to Activities Safely  

It will be important to have good balance in order to resume normal activities of daily living as losing your balance can be very dangerous in certain settings. Your Physiotherapist will not only be able to treat your condition and help improve you to the point that you are more capable of doing your daily activities, but also provide recommendations and education on how to safely resume your normal life.

Progress Balance Re-Training Exercises

Your Physiotherapist can provide you with some exercises to help re-train your balance after a period of dizziness, vertigo or imbalance. If your imbalance is age related, it will be important to re-build your balance system and then maintain it throughout a lifetime. If your balance has been impaired by other illnesses or conditions, it will be important to treat those underlying reasons and then re-build and maintain your balance through exercises. Either way, your Physiotherapist can provide you with the right exercises and progress them as you improve over time.

What are the best exercises to help with Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance?

Bird Dog

Get on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders.
Your back is in a neutral position (slightly arched) and your chin must be tucked in.
Tighten slightly your abdominals, lumbar muscles and pelvic floor muscles then lift one arm and the opposite leg without allowing the trunk or pelvis to move or rotate.
Try to grab something far away in front of you with your hand and touch an imaginary wall far behind you with your foot instead of just lifting them up.
Lower your leg and arm back to the floor and repeat with the other leg and the opposite arm. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

Tandem Balance

Stand on a firm surface.
Place one foot directly in front of the other.
Maintain your upright posture.
Switch feet, and repeat.
Progress by standing on a folded towel then on a pillow or closing your eyes. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

Weight Shift

Transfer your weight from your heels to your toes as far as possible without falling. Always keep your feet flat on the floor. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

One Foot Balance

Stand in front of a counter.
Lift one leg off the ground so as to stand on one foot. Try to keep standing without holding on. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

Stand on one leg on a firm surface.
Close your eyes and maintain your upright posture.
Slightly touch a table or counter with your finger for balance. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

Standing on One Foot or Walking While Turning Head

Stand on one leg next to a wall, a countertop, or a table for safety.
Try to turn your head from right to left-as if you were saying "no"-while standing without holding on.

Can be progressed to walking while turning head. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

Proprioception Clock

Stand on one leg and reach as far as possible forward sideways and backward with the free foot to each hour.
Bend your support knee slightly for balance. for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

How Can you Prevent Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance?

Sometimes, dizziness, vertigo and imbalance can be difficult to prevent as it can come on with no warning. Since it can quite often be related to age and reduction in balance over time, maintaining your balance through exercises as you age is always a good idea. These symptoms can also often result from episodes of sudden uncontrolled movements such as at amusement parks or from a fall. Avoiding these sudden movements and taking every precaution in fall prevention can also be ways to prevent dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. Seeing your doctor or Physiotherapist at the first sign of something feeling out of the norm in anything head or ear related is always a good idea and can quite often prevent a worsening of problems.

What is the fastest way to heal Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance?

The fastest way to heal dizziness, vertigo and imbalance is to seek help right away and follow all recommendations from your doctor or Physiotherapist. Having the appropriate treatment done and following all instructions for home based exercises and lifestyle modifications will likely get you back to normal the fastest. Sometimes, the healing speed is beyond our control though, and you simply have to be patient with your body and rest until you are feeling better.

Contact Us For Help

Inertia Physio+ offers Kanata and Stittsville exceptional Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy and Registered Massage Therapy with private treatment rooms, one on one care, a maximum of two patients per hour and treatment focused on the evidence-based practices of manual and exercise therapy. Don’t suffer any longer.  If you have pain or injury, our Kanata and Stittsville Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy, and Registered Massage Therapy team is here to help you get back to living pain-free life and activities.  Please reach out to us at (613) 672-2200 or for an appointment today! You are also welcome to book online. We also offer direct billing on Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy services whenever your plan allows.


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