Vertigo is a rarely understood issue that affects many Canadians. Physionorth Sports & Wellness Centre appreciates the difficulties that those with vertigo face – we have special treatments specifically designed to give vertigo patients a chance to live more enjoyable lives. It can be difficult to find a physiotherapy centre that performs this treatment, which is why we are proud to provide vertigo treatments to Prince George area patients.
What is Vertigo?
Dizziness and balance problems affect approximately 50% of all adults at some time in their life. It is the most common reason for physician visits in people over the age of 65. In the elderly, dizziness is associated with an increased risk of falling which is a major health concern in this age group, occasionally leading to debilitating injuries and even death. The term "dizziness" is a catch-all description of a variety of symptoms which may result from many causes. Some of these include cardiovascular problems such as low blood pressure, TIA's, arrhythmias, neurological problems such as strokes, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, visual deficits, neck problems, anxiety and last but not least, vestibular system disorders.
Vestibular System Disorders
The vestibular system is a set of motion sensors in the inner ear that provides information on head position in space and speed of head movement. Together with input from the eyes, ears, and joint position receptors in the neck, the brain is able to maintain an upright posture and balance. Vestibular problems may arise from several causes including head trauma, such as falls and whiplash, ear infections, viruses, degeneration of the vestibular system in the elderly, high dosage or long term use of certain antibiotics and damage from extreme pressure changes.
Causes of Vertigo
Treatment of dizziness and vertigo will vary depending on the cause. Your physiotherapist will perform specific tests to determine where the problem is coming from. The most common cause of vertigo (20-30%), is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). These patients complain of vertigo when bending forward, looking up, lying down and rolling over in bed. It is a biomechanical problem in which crystals on hair cells in the inner ear are displaced and float into the semi-circular canals. Treatment involves a gentle movement of the head to return the crystals to their site of origin. This form of vertigo tends to respond quickly - usually within 1-3 treatments. Acute vertigo (less than 3 days) is often related to vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis. The cause is thought to be viral. The onset is usually sudden and severe with intense vertigo, nausea/vomiting, spontaneous nystagmus and loss of equilibrium. Treatment includes bed rest and a vestibular suppressant medication such as Serc.
Chronic vertigo (>3 days) may be a residual effect from an acute vertigo attack and usually responds to vestibular and balance exercises.
Meniere's Disease is another common cause of vertigo. This is caused by malabsorption of fluid in the inner ear which causes fluctuations in pressure. Symptoms include ear fullness, tinnitus, fluctuating hearing loss, vertigo, imbalance, nausea and vomiting. Treatment may include decreasing salt, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine intake, and using a diuretic or anti-histamine.
If you or someone you know is experiencing vertigo and has been cleared in a medical assessment, it may be beneficial to have an assessment done by a qualified physiotherapist. Call us today to learn more.