November 22, 2022 By: Dr. Sarah Martinez, PT, DPT
Vertigo/Dizziness is a sense of spinning/movement within a still environment or an illusion of movement. There are many types of vestibular disorders that affect the inner ear, but the one most common is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV can be caused by head trauma, certain medications, or can develop after an inner ear infection. Inside the ear are 3 canals, that contain nerve endings of the vestibular nerve that are called hair cells. These hair cells move equal in speed but opposite in direction when we turn our head and give our vestibular system feedback to know where we are in space. But sometimes when calcium crystals break off from on top of the hair cells, this gives wrong feedback to our system, and this causes the dizziness. These crystals get stuck in the canals and when we turn a certain way, it will cause the symptoms, including nystagmus (eyes movement to the side or up/down).
Physical Therapy can help treat the dizziness and balance issues releated to BPPV. Testing begins with an eye exam, looking at the cranial nerves that control eye movement. Then the eyes are examined for nystagus in several different positions, this will tell us where the problem is located (which canal in the inner ear). Static and dynamic balance is also examined and motion sensitivity. Once your testing is complete you will be taken through a series of movements to help the crystals to leave the canal where the problem is located.
The good news is that vestibular treatments are quite effective and there are many self-treatments available for patients to do at home. Many patients feel an improvement after their first visit.
If you are uncertain that you have BPPV or some other dizziness problem, come see us today! We will spend the time needed with you to find the root of your problem and start treatment immediately.