7 ways that physical therapy may improve your vertigo

Dizziness and vertigo affect from 15% to over 20% of adults every year. Vertigo is a problem with the inner ear or the brain that causes feelings of dizziness, imbalance and spinning sensations. It can be a stand-alone condition in itself, or it can be a symptom of another condition, such as TMJ dysfunction or Ménière’s disease. Vertigo ranges in severity from brief, mild episodes of dizziness to intense spinning feelings that can cause nausea and vomiting. The risk of falling can make vertigo dangerous. It can also cause anxiety and get in the way of your day-to-day life.

Your chances of experiencing vertigo start increasing after 60 years of age. Most cases of vertigo are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which occurs when small calcium crystals become loose in your inner ear. This type of vertigo is most often reversible.

In cases where vertigo isn’t completely reversible, patients can work with their doctor and a physical therapist to manage their symptoms. This article outlines seven ways physical therapy can help you improve your symptoms of vertigo.

How can physical therapy improve my vertigo?

Your physical therapist can help you improve your sense of balance. They’ll help you feel more attuned to your body and strengthen your muscles for more control. Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of balance therapy that helps you feel more grounded, steady and coordinated. Your therapist will guide you through exercises to help with proprioception, or your sense of your body’s position and movement. Gait training, or help with your walking style and stride, is another element of balance therapy.

All types of vertigo involve confusion or a miscommunication of signals between the brain and body. Exercises with repetitive movements will help you overcome this confusion to reduce symptoms. You can also use them to manage the sudden onset of dizzy spells and motion sensations.

7 ways physical therapy may improve your vertigo 

Working on grounding and balance with vertigo takes some courage. The stances and exercises you practice may aggravate your symptoms at first. However, after a couple of sessions, your brain and body will start to feel a bit safer. You’ll develop the muscle memory to get into a grounded position quickly when you need to. Strengthening your muscles will also create a feeling of stability.

A physical therapy treatment plan for vertigo will incorporate personalized treatment recommendations and exercises to improve your specific symptoms. The following are seven ways physical therapy can help you overcome your vertigo symptoms:

  • Reduce or eliminate vertigo symptoms — Just like “muscle memory,” your brain and nervous system can be trained for a more accurate sense of your physical position and movement. Practicing the exercises your PT recommends will help “recalibrate” your brain-body communication.
  • Learn grounding techniques — Your PT can teach you mindfulness techniques, stances and muscle contraction exercises you can use during episodes of vertigo. For example, you might take an athletic stance with your knees bent and feet more than shoulder width apart. Keep your chest and eyes up and engage your core, hips and back while you focus on staying present and still.
  • Feel more stable — Vestibular exercises help with spinning sensations, eye movements and hand-eye coordination. These repetitive eye, head and body movements help you build a stronger sense of your body’s position and movements. Some vestibular exercises will trigger vertigo symptoms in safe, stable positions so your body can adjust.
  • Learn how to fall safely — Your PT will teach you about fall prevention and techniques to land safely if you do lose your balance. This can do a lot to reduce the fear of falling and improve reflexes, lowering your risk of injury.
  • Feel less lightheaded or faint — Your PT may have diet and lifestyle recommendations that can help strengthen your system so you won’t feel quite so lightheaded. Improving your other senses with exercises like gaze stabilization can help you steady yourself as well.
  • Lower your fall risk — You can lower your risk of injury from falls by building strength in core, back and leg muscles and working on your reaction time and agility. Again, getting more in tune with your body and developing muscle memory in stable stances are good ways to prevent falls.
  • Walk with confidence — Gait training breaks down each part of your stride to isolate and strengthen weak points. These exercises help you maintain stability while you’re moving so you’ll feel less disoriented.

Try physical therapy to reduce vertigo symptoms at Lattimore PT

Though it’s not a particularly dangerous condition in itself, vertigo can have serious effects on your life and your safety. Severe vertigo symptoms can make it hard to get out of bed, much less go to work, drive or do the things you enjoy. You may know gravity isn’t shifting beneath you, but the risk of falling and injuring yourself is real.

Physical therapists are trained in gentle yet effective methods for rehabilitating patients with vertigo. You don’t have to let your symptoms hold you back from the things you want to do. Work with a PT you trust to reduce vertigo symptoms as much as possible.

Licensed PTs at all Lattimore Physical Therapy locations have openings for new patients. Ready to start working on your vertigo? Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an assessment.

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