Dizziness and How Physical Therapy Can Help
If you have ever experienced dizziness, you know how uncomfortable it can be and often it can be debilitating. Dizziness, by definition, produces one or more of the following: 1) A false sense of motion or spinning (vertigo), 2) Lightheadedness or feeling faint, 3) Unsteadiness on feet or loss of balance, or 4) a feeling of floating, wooziness, or heavy headedness.1 One of the biggest concerns regarding dizziness is the risk for falling. Especially for the aging population, as dizziness becomes more common, a fall can lead to a fracture or serious injury.
Dizziness can often be a side effect of a multitude of conditions including:
Drop in Blood Pressure
Low blood sugar
Neurological conditions (Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or stroke)
Carbon Monoxide poisoning
Inner ear problems (Vertigo or Meniere’s Disease)
With an unknown cause of dizziness, it is important to find a trained professional to assess your dizziness as soon as possible. Physical Therapists are trained to identify the possible root cause of your dizziness, treat your symptoms, or refer you to the right specialist for further evaluation.
There are several causes of dizziness that physical therapy can directly treat:
Dizziness related to the neck may increase due to a certain position the neck or head is in or maintained for an extended period. Neck pain and stiffness may cause an increase in dizziness from a loss of mobility either from the joints (arthritis) or from muscle tension. Increased muscle tension of the muscles in the neck, especially at the base of the skull, often cause a headache. Once the neck pain is resolved, the dizziness is often resolved as well.3
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a false sensation of spinning and the most common type of vertigo. It occurs when calcium crystals in the gel within your inner ear get dislodged and migrate to areas within the inner ear canals where they are not supposed to be. These crystals interfere with the normal fluid movement that your inner ear uses to sense head motion, causing false signals to the brain. A physical therapist trained in treating this type of vertigo will assess each canal through a series of head positioning tests. They will further treat the affected canal to “flush” out the crystals by performing one or several specific maneuvers. These maneuvers can be very effective in reducing the dizziness quickly.3
Loss of balance is often a part of normal aging, but if dizziness results in falling, it can be a serious concern. Impaired balance associated with aging can be a cause of impaired inner ear function, cardiovascular health, neurological disease, arthritis, mental status, nutrition, impaired vision, or environmental factors. A physical therapist is trained to identify and determine a plan to improve all the possible deficits.3
See Dr. Abby Myers blog post on fall prevention here: https://www.mtnpt.com/post/avoid-a-fall-this-fall or check out Mountain Physical Therapy’s YouTube for balance related exercises.
Seeking a health care provider, in a timely manner, with specific training in identifying dizziness and treating its conditions is crucial. The providers at Mountain Physical Therapy can help determine your cause and get you feeling better and back to living your life without interruptions.
Dizziness. Mayoclinic.org. Updated October 15, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/symptoms-causes/syc-20371787
Physical Therapy Guide to Dizziness. APTA. choosePT.com. Updated March 5, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://www.choosept.com/guide/physical-therapy-guide-dizziness
Types of Vestibular Disorders. Vestibular.org. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://vestibular.org/article/diagnosis-treatment/types-of-vestibular-disorders/