“I have vertigo. Vertigo makes it feel like the floor is pitching up and down. Things seem to be spinning. It’s like standing on the deck of a ship in really high seas.” – Laura Hillenbrand, Author
For those who suffer from it, few sensations are more dreaded than those caused by vertigo. For most, it causes them to feel as if they are moving even when they are still, or that everything around them is spinning. The dizziness and unsteadiness are not only potentially nauseating but actually dangerous.
According to one study, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults experience vertigo at least once in their lifetime, with women slightly more likely to experience it than men. And vertigo is a complex condition that cannot be cured but can be managed with treatment.
As noted on the Penn Medicine website,
“There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central vertigo. Peripheral vertigo is due to a problem in the part of the inner ear that controls balance. These areas are called the vestibular labyrinth, or semicircular canals. The problem may also involve the vestibular nerve. This is the nerve between the inner ear and the brain stem… Central vertigo is due to a problem in the brain, usually in the brain stem or the back part of the brain (cerebellum). ”
The article goes on to point out that there are over a half dozen possible causes for each major type of vertigo.
Vertigo: A Brief Overview of Types and Causes
As we’ve seen, there are two types of vertigo – peripheral and central – and each has its own set of possible causes.
Peripheral vertigo may be caused by:
- Benign positional vertigo (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, also known as BPPV)
- Certain medicines, such as aminoglycoside antibiotics, cisplatin, diuretics, or salicylates, which are toxic to the inner ear structures
- Injury (such as head injury)
- Inflammation of the vestibular nerve (neuronitis)
- Irritation and swelling of the inner ear (labyrinthitis)
- Meniere disease
- Pressure on the vestibular nerve, usually from a noncancerous tumor such as a meningioma or schwannoma
Central vertigo may be caused by:
- Blood vessel disease
- Certain drugs, such as anticonvulsants, aspirin, and alcohol
- Multiple sclerosis
- Seizures (rarely)
- Tumors (cancerous or noncancerous)
- Vestibular migraine, is a type of migraine headache
In addition, a pinched nerve in the neck can cause dizziness or vertigo by affecting the structures of the ear or the spinal cord. This condition is also called cervical vertigo and can be triggered by whiplash injuries or head injuries.
How Can You Tell if You Are Suffering from Vertigo?
Everyone can get dizzy from time to time, especially those with low blood pressure or poor circulation, for example. Sometimes simply standing up after squatting or kneeling for a period of time can trigger dizziness.
However, the symptoms of actual vertigo typically go beyond mild dizziness.
The main symptom is a sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning. The spinning sensation may cause nausea and vomiting.
And depending on the cause, other symptoms can include:
- Problem focusing the eyes
- Mild to severe dizziness
- Hearing loss in one or both ears
- Loss of balance (which may cause falls)
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting, lead to loss of body fluids
If one has vertigo due to problems in the brain, or central vertigo, other symptoms can include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Double vision
- Eye movement problems
- Facial paralysis
- Slurred speech
- Weakness of the limbs
Integrating Vertigo Treatment Exercises as a Form of Self-Treatment
It turns out that there are several effective exercises that can help manage and alleviate symptoms of vertigo.
These exercises are often recommended as part of what is known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on treating vestibular disorders, including vertigo and balance problems. They can be performed under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
However, it’s important to note that these exercises should be done only after consulting with a healthcare provider, as the appropriate exercises may vary depending on the specific cause and type of vertigo.
- Sit on the edge of a bed or couch.
- Start in an upright position.
- Quickly lie down on your side with your head turned at a 45-degree angle toward the affected ear.
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds or until the dizziness subsides.
- Sit up and return to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Aim for about 5 repetitions on each side, twice a day.
Gaze Stabilization Exercise:
- Sit or stand in a well-lit room.
- Pick a stationary object in front of you (e.g., a finger, a small target, or a spot on the wall).
- Focus your gaze on the chosen object and keep your head still.
- Without moving your head, move your eyes as far to the left as possible and hold for a few seconds.
- Return your eyes to the center and hold for a few seconds.
- Repeat the eye movement to the right, up, and down, holding for a few seconds in each position.
- Perform 10 repetitions in each direction, twice a day.
Balance Training Exercises:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold onto a stable surface for support if needed.
- Focus on keeping your body upright and steady.
- Shift your weight to your affected side, then slowly back to the center.
- Repeat the weight shift to the opposite side.
- Perform 10 repetitions on each side, twice a day.
It’s crucial to remember that these exercises should be performed cautiously and gradually. If you experience increased dizziness or discomfort during an exercise, stop and consult your healthcare provider. They will be able to provide further guidance and tailor the exercises to your specific needs.
There are also Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers (A.K.A Epley or Semont maneuvers) that are maneuvers typically performed by a healthcare professional, but they can also be done at home with proper instruction.
Note: The specific instructions for these maneuvers can vary depending on the affected ear and type of vertigo, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure the correct technique.
Treating Pain and Other Dysfunctions with Pain and Performance Solutions
If you are suffering from recurring or chronic pain that isn’t “going away” or conditions such as vertigo, migraine headaches, or nerve impingement issues, your next step should be to schedule a visit with Pain and Performance Solutions.
Regardless of how long or how recently your pain or discomfort has been affecting you, relief can begin once we’re able to gain an in-depth understanding of when and how your issue started. This begins at your first appointment where we will work with you to learn about your present symptoms as well as any history of discomfort.
At Pain and Performance Solutions we specialize in bringing relief from dysfunctional body issues such as chronic muscle and joint pain with therapies such as Active Release Techniques® (ART®) and Anatomy in Motion (AiM). And this begins to happen once we understand where your pain started. Often this can mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Don’t simply ignore your pain hoping it will just go away. Let us help.
Contact us today at 707-636-4404 or book an appointment online to start your recovery process.