What is vertigo?

Picture of a man with headache and migraine

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV is also known as postural or positional. It is the most common form of dizziness. It is also the main type which Physiotherapists regularly treat. It is the sensation of spinning or acute dizziness, caused by a disturbance to the vestibular  or balance system. Our bodies stay balanced with the help of  3 canals and fluid filled sacs found in your inner ear. These help detect movement in different planes.
Vertigo is caused by excess debris floating around in one of the canals inside your ear. It can come on for no apparent reason. Or sometimes due to infections in the inner ear. As a result, those affected, may have attacks for weeks followed by a period of no symptoms at all.

What are the common vertigo symptoms?

These occur with sudden head movements or looking up. They are:

  • Sudden episodes of violent dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Symptoms last half a minute or more
  • Eyes drifting and flicking uncontrollably

What are the common vertigo causes?

The inner ear canals are filled with fluid and are positioned at specific angles. On moving our heads, signals pass to the brain to give feedback on how far, fast and in what direction you have moved your head. Also within these canals are small crystals made of calcium carbonate. They are actually present within small reservoirs. Vertigo is the result of these ear crystals dislodging and escaping into the canal. This in turn disrupts the balance system.

Factors which can cause these to dislodge are:

  • Head or ear injury.
  • Ear surgery or ear infection
  • Degeneration of the inner ear structures.
  • Viral infection of the inner ear).
  • Meniere’s disease – a disorder of the inner ear).
  • Some types of minor strokes.
  • In approximately half of the cases, the cause is unknown.

How can Physiotherapy help vertigo ?

Our physiotherapists assess vertigo using a series of positional tests to identify which canal and which ear is affected. Then, we use these very positions or head movements to drain the debris out of the inner ear and relocate the crystals into its reservoir. We continue these treatments until the symptoms disappear. It goes without saying that we use specialized methods to treat vertigo.

Our physiotherapist will also show home exercises to continue this drainage at home. You will also get habituation advice about head movement, sleeping position and activities to avoid. According to Australian Physiotherapy association, there is a lot of evidence to show that Physio a very effective treatment.