Stop the Spinning

Stop the Spinning

Physical Therapy Treatment highly effective for Vertigo

BY David Schoenberger, DPT

Feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness or unsteadiness affect an estimated 40 percent of all active adults at some point in their lives. These symptoms directly influence one’s ability to balance, which subsequently influences one’s quality of life. Collectively, these symptoms can occur for a variety of different reasons, often provoking anxiety, fear of falling and ultimately lead to unwanted changes in one’s lifestyle.

Our body’s ability to keep us standing upright, hinges on the cooperation and function of several bodily systems. Of these, the most important are the eyes, inner ears and muscles. Individually, these systems provide a constant stream of information to your brain which, in turn, directs your muscles appropriately so that you stay on your feet. Normally, the feedback from these three systems is in harmony and you’re able to walk, roll over in bed or climb stairs without any trouble. However, when these systems are in disharmony, the brain becomes confused and we experience feelings of dizziness or unsteadiness.

If you find yourself being more cautious when looking over your shoulder, bending forward, or even rolling over in bed, then you might be suffering from a specific balance condition called Vertigo. The most common form of vertigo is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This is a condition which affects the inner ear and often causes people to feel like the room is spinning around them. Studies have found that BPPV affects women more frequently than men, and is especially common in those with osteoporosis. The reason for this stems from the true cause of BPPV – bony crystals that have become dislodged and are now floating through the natural fluid in our inner ear. As these crystals float through the fluid, our inner ear sends signals to our brain that we are moving when, in fact, our eyes and joint receptors tell the brain that we are not. These mixed signals are interpreted by the brain and cause sensations of dizziness.

The good news is that the vertigo is highly treatable. In fact, research suggests that physical therapists are able to resolve the symptoms within one or two treatment sessions, on average. Depending on which ear is affected and the direction in which the crystals need to be moved, various maneuvers are performed in the first treatment session to migrate the crystals back to their appropriate location.

If BPPV does not sound like the primary cause of your dizziness or unsteadiness, then it may be related to other bodily systems including the visual, muscular, or cardiopulmonary systems. Physical therapists are trained to screen all of these systems and determine the true cause of your symptoms. Regardless of the root cause of your symptoms, recognize that you do not have to “live with it” or feel forced to avoid participating in the hobbies and activities you love to do. Help is available.

With these simple tips, you will be able to confidently navigate sidewalks, driveways and curbs which can become hazardous during the winter months. However, if you still feel fearful of falling and hesitate to be outside during the colder months, we encourage you to contact Franklin Rehabilitation physical therapy at (414) 425-9700. We offer free initial screenings and can start you on a treatment plan if needed to make sure your body is performing at its optimal level.