Dizziness can be a recurring and debilitating problem. The most common type of dizziness is called vertigo. This feels like the room is spinning, even if you are not moving. Dizziness can also sometimes present as the feeling of light-headedness or a sense of decreased balance. Determining the root cause of the dizziness is necessary to determine the correct treatment for you.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (Don’t worry we won’t make you pronounce it)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common. It is the most readily treatable dizziness condition your physiotherapist can help you with. BPPV sufferers will most likely complain of the feeling of the room spinning around them, even if they are standing still. This can be accompanied by feeling of nausea and vomiting.
Generally, these symptoms will be brought on by changing the position of your head, either too fast or into a particular position (i.e.: sitting up out of bed). With BPPV, these feelings should pass in just a few minutes time.
What is it?
BBPV stems from a problem in what is called the vestibular system. This system is almost entirely self-contained within our ears. Its primary function is to tell our brain where our head is in space.
There are 3 fluid filled canals in each ear that are each responsible for detecting a different head movement. Within these canals are tiny hairs called cilia. They are stimulated by the fluid in the canal moving past them, causing them to bend. This in turn sends a signal to the brain, telling it what is happening. Just outside of these canals, are other structures that contain little calcium “stones”. They help play a role in sensing gravity and acceleration.
Occasionally, one of these little stones can become displaced and enter one of the semicircular canals. When this happens, it can become stuck in the canal and become lodged on one of the cilia hair cells. Because of this, the hair cells can get stuck in the “on” position and send improper messages to the brain. This can cause our brain to think we are moving, even when we are not. It can also cause our brain to think we are moving in a different direction to what our eyes are telling us. This is what can cause that feeling of vertigo.
How can my Physio help?
The vestibular system and the visual system are closely linked. Therefore, your physio will be using your eyes as the key marker for determining whether this is the cause of your dizziness. Physios know which canal is responsible for each movement, and they know the specific shape and orientation of each.
They are able to take your head through a specific combination of movements while looking for a response in your eyes. From here, they can figure out which of the canals that little “stone” is stuck in. Once the canal is identified, they can then work to get it out of the canal and back to where it belongs. With proper physio treatment, BPPV symptoms can begin to resolve in just a few sessions.
What if it’s not BPPV?
If you find that your dizziness is not brought on by changes in positions or is lasting longer than a few minutes, it is most likely not BPPV. There is a whole host of other issues that can cause dizziness, most of which your physio can help diagnose and treat.
These conditions will generally need primary management through your doctor, but physiotherapists can be a great starting point for proper diagnosis and getting you on the road to recovery.
What should I do?
Vertigo or Head spins aren’t fun and don’t let dizziness keep you from living your life to the fullest. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, give us a call to book a consultation today 07 3352 5116 or book online.
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