Ready to Get Back on Your Feet? We Can Help!
Balance is a big deal in our everyday world, but we take it for granted. Just think how long it took you to master walking, running, and jumping as a child. Your balance system is incredibly complex, and allows you to walk around over steps, and obstacles without thinking. However, when balance is affected, it can be difficult to perform daily tasks and activities you enjoy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Thirty million older adults fall each year—resulting in about 30,000 deaths. Each year, 3 million older adults are treated for a fall injury. One out of every five falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.”
Dizziness and vertigo are common reasons why someone may experience issues with balance or sustain an unexpected fall. We’ve all had the sensation of being dizzy – as if you can’t focus, can’t see straight, can’t stand upright without swaying or falling. You may even experience “tunnel vision,” where your peripheral vision goes dark for a few seconds.
Dizziness is common and can have many causes. Vertigo, however, is a little different. While dizziness is typically synonymous with “lightheadedness,” which creates the illusion of being unsteady, vertigo is typically a response to a physiological factor that is causing a quite literal imbalance in your body. Those experiencing vertigo have reported feeling as if they are “rocking” or “spinning,” even when they are sitting still.
Physical therapy for dizziness and vertigo is a common and effective course of treatment. For inquiries regarding vertigo testing, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’ve been feeling dizzy, or you think you may have some of the symptoms of vertigo, call our office today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced physical therapists.
Why is my balance compromised by dizziness and/or vertigo?
Just a few of the many factors that can lead to dizziness include lack of sleep, poor nutrition, overexertion, or a physical ailment, such as a head cold or the flu. Dizziness can also occur from something as simple as standing up too quickly after an extended period of rest.
Some accompanying symptoms to dizziness may include:
- Loss of balance
- Lightheadedness or heavy-headedness
- Momentarily impaired vision (i.e. tunnel vision)
- Feeling woozy or faint
The causes of vertigo aren’t nearly as vast. In fact, vertigo is most commonly caused by an imbalance in the inner ear, also known as the “vestibular system.” Your vestibular system helps you maintain your balance and center of gravity by sending messages to your brain regarding your movement.
When this is impaired, the necessary messages become blocked from your brain, and your movement becomes affected. You may feel as if the world is spinning around you, you can’t focus your vision for prolonged periods of time, or you can’t stand/move properly without feeling like you’ll topple over.
Some common causes of vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the most common cause of vertigo. It occurs when the tiny calcium crystals located in your ears break apart and move around to different parts of the ear that they are not supposed to be in. This can cause sudden spinning sensations (vertigo) and inner-ear discomfort.
- Meniere’s disease. This occurs when fluid builds up in your ear(s). This typically includes “ringing” sounds in the inner-ear and sudden waves of vertigo that may last for hours. You may also experience momentary hearing losses.
- Vestibular neuritis. This is an inner-ear infection that can cause vertigo.
- Migraines. Migraines can impact your vestibular system, thus causing episodes of vertigo which may be coupled with sensitivities to light or sound. Vision may also be impaired.
- Stroke. A stroke affects movement in your whole body. If you recently suffered a stroke, you may experience waves of vertigo which may linger for extended periods of time.
Some accompanying symptoms to vertigo may also include:
- Inability to focus or remain alert.
- Double vision.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Arm or leg weakness.
- Difficulty seeing or speaking.
- Abnormal eye movements.
How will physical therapy help?
Dizziness and vertigo can both hinder your balance, limiting your ability to perform even the simplest of tasks. Luckily, no matter what the cause may be, physical therapy for dizziness and vertigo can help. We have some of the most advanced techniques for diagnosing and treating both dizziness and vertigo, including vestibular rehabilitation and videonystagmography.
Vestibular rehabilitation includes treatments such as the Epley maneuver, which allows for canalith repositioning to move the broken calcium crystals in patients experiencing BPPV, as well as Cawthorne head exercises, which focus on decreasing nerve sensitivity and improving vertigo.
Videonystagmography is a highly specialized diagnostic tool for testing inner ear functions. This test determines whether your dizziness or vertigo is being caused by a vestibular disease, and it is the only test available that can decipher whether there is a vestibular loss in one or both ears.
It is a non-invasive test that uses infrared goggles to record a patient’s eye movements, thus determining how well the patient is able to react to visual stimuli responses that are being sent from the vestibular system.
Get back on your feet today!
Physical therapy is very important to strengthening joints and learning the right exercises to relieve dizziness and vertigo, in order to improve balance.
A professional can help you develop a program that plays into your strengths while increasing your ability to balance and reduce bouts of unsteadiness. Contact us today to get started!