What is Vertigo and how do I have it?
Vertigo is the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning. Vertigo can be mild or severe, constant or transient and positional related.
One’s sense of balance and spatial orientation can be affected by the brain, inner ear, sight, touch, joint position sense and muscles. Dysfunction in any of these areas can lead to imbalance or vertigo. Symptom description and various tests findings during a physiotherapy visit would help one to clarify their symptoms and find out the root cause of symptom.
Image credit: Zero To Finals from YouTube.
A common cause of transient Vertigo resulting from the inner ear is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It can happen suddenly, often positional and is treatable. It is repeatedly triggered by changes in head position and can last for about a minute or less.
Our inner ear is made of up of three semicircular canals (filled with fluid) and two otolith organs (the utricle and the saccule). When bio-crystals, called otoconia, from the otolith organs are displaced into the semicircular canals, it results in vertigo as these crystals move around the fluid in the semicircular canals. Hence, movement of our head and the ear (such as turning in bed, getting up from bed, turning to look at the side, etc) can cause this unique spinning sensation.
What kind of treatment helps?
Physiotherapy treatment often involve the repositioning of these bio-crystals back with certain manoeuvres depending on which semicircular canal (anterior, posterior or lateral) the bio-crystal is dislodged into. Recovery duration from BPPV varies, with some clients requiring a single repositioning manoeuvre to others requiring multiple follow-up sessions. Desensitisation and Balance exercises are also taught to help improve one’s overall balance.
What should you do if you feel you are experiencing vertigo/dizziness?
We recommend seeking professional medical assessment as there are many other conditions that might present with similar symptoms. Some examples are ear infection, vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine, Meniere’s disease, neurolabyrinthitis, stroke, sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and malignant paroxysmal position vertigo. Some medications such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, sedatives, muscle relaxants, strong analgesics may cause vertigo as well.
Cheah Hui Lin, Physiotherapist
After seeking medical advice and if you would like to arrange for a Physiotherapy consultation / treatment, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/WA us at 9850 8156.