Can a physio help with vertigo?

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Vertigo is a debilitating condition and can hamper your day-to-day activities. If you experience vertigo a physiotherapist can help you.

There is a multitude of causes for vertigo. The most common however is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This condition is a disorder of the vestibular system and accounts for 20-40% of hospital admissions due to dizziness. Annually, there are approximately 1400 cases diagnosed every year in Australia with a further 5000 Australians living with this condition.

What Causes BPPV?

The cause of BPPV is attributed to the movement of crystals (otoconia) within the semicircular canals of the inner ear. The inner lining (endolymph) becomes sensitized to motion resulting in that very common sensation of the โ€˜spinning sensationโ€™ or the โ€˜room spinningโ€™.

Triggers of BPPV

  • Tilting your head
  • Changing positions in the bed
  • Completing head checks in traffic
    • Symptoms

      • Paroxysmal: short-lasting dizziness (usually lasts up to 60 seconds)
      • Onset is usually position related
      • Nausea is very common, particularly if you are susceptible to motion sickness
      • Visual disturbances: you may have difficulty with your vision due to the rapid movement of the eyes during vertigo episodes (nystagmus)
      • Balance: as the inner ear is a key component of your balance system, any issues can lead to balance deficits
        • It is important to keep a record of all your symptoms so that your physiotherapist can accurately diagnose you. Record which direction of movement makes your symptoms worse. This valuable information will help your physiotherapist provide you with the most effective treatment.

          How a Physiotherapist Can Help with BPPV

          To diagnose you with BPPV your physiotherapist will conduct a range of assessments which include:

          • Balance assessment
          • Visual assessment
          • Vertigo assessment
            • The vertigo assessment will include a test with rapid changes in head positions to shift the crystals in the inner ear and reproduce your symptoms, it is important to tell your physiotherapist if you have a history or are currently dealing with neck pain.


              Treatment of BPPV is very tailored. It can also involve exercises that aim to shift the positions of the crystals in the inner ear back to the correct location. Vestibular rehab can also help retrain your balance and vision back to normal.

              By Mr Abdul Abdirahman

              Physio Moonee Ponds

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