What is causing my dizziness? Can Physical Therapy help?
Written by Savannah Fuelberth, PT, DPT
Dizziness can be caused by an imbalance or dysfunction of the inner ear or “vestibular system”. This system helps inform your brain on the movement of your head, particularly if you are turning or rotating, and contributes to your overall balance and center of gravity. If this system is not working properly, you may experience dizziness, unsteadiness, or spinning sensations as you go about your day.
What are some common causes of dizziness?
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- BPPV is a common cause of dizziness where tiny calcium crystals become dislodged and float into areas of the vestibular system, or the inner ear, that do not belong. This will result in dizziness or a spinning sensation, particularly when you lay down or roll over in bed.
- Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (UVH)
- UVH is a term used when the vestibular system, or part of the inner ear, that helps with balance is working properly in one ear, but not in the other. When this happens, common symptoms include dizziness, unsteadiness when walking or turning the head, and blurry vision.
- Meniere’s Disease
- This disease is associated with increased pressure or fluid build up in the ears. It is often associated with ringing in the ears and sudden bouts of severe dizziness that can last for a few hours at a time.
- Severe migraines or headaches can sometimes affect the vestibular system, and may be accompanied by dizziness, light or sound sensitivity, or visual auras.
How is it treated?
Your physical therapist will perform a series of tests to determine the source of your dizziness. Once this is identified, your therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to safely resolve your dizziness and improve your overall functioning. As your dizziness resolves, your therapist can guide you through more difficult exercises to improve your balance if this continues to be a problem.
Experiencing dizziness can greatly impact your daily activities and mental well-being. Working with a physical therapist who is experienced in treating dizziness can help you regain independence and return to the activities that are important to you.