Like I always say, when you’re dizzy and you don’t know which way the floor is… you’re sure to end up on it!
Dizziness is a huge factor in falls. Many people get dizzy or have what we call “vertigo” and fall. So what can you do about it??? Well Physical Therapy of course! (Really??? PT for Vertigo?!?!) Yes, Physical Therapy can improve dizziness with great success.
There are several things that can make you dizzy. If you are dizzy, the first step is to go to your doctor to make sure your heart is not the cause. The heart trumps everything. We have to rule out any cardiac issue first. Once they decide it’s not your heart, we can start PT!
There are 2 main things that vertigo can come from:
- The Inner Ear
- Vestibular Occular Reflex (VOR)
The inner ear, sometimes referred to as the vestibular system, provides important information on the position of our head and its movement in space. This is how you know you are “tilting” sideways. The inner ear is made up of 3 canals or tubes. These tubes have tiny microscopic crystals in them. When you turn your head to one side, the crystals on one side vibrate. This tells your body that your head is turning. These crystals help keep your head in the correct alignment and tell your body where you are.
If there are too many crystals in your ear it can trick your brain into thinking that your head is moving when it’s not. Hence the dizzy or spinning sensation. This is called Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It usually occurs when you bend forward or look up.
Why does this happen???
In short, we don’t know. There is a lot about the cause of BPPV we don’t know.
What we do know is that it is common:
- After an ear infection
- After you hit your head (ie- a fall or car accident)
- You are more likely to get it as you get older
- You are more likely to get it if you’ve had it before
The good news is that we know how to treat it! It’s really quick, easy and cheap. Best yet, there are no medicines, shots or surgery involved! 75% of people are better after just 1 treatment and 97% of people are better after only 3 treatments!
Many people with BPPV have dizziness with:
- Looking up
- Getting out of bed
- Looking into a low shelf/cabinet
- Turning their head driving- especially in reverse
- Laying flat
What we do is super easy and quick! This can be resolved in 1 to 3 visits! We perform something called the Epley Maneuver. For this we move the crystals around your 3 ear canals and help them reabsorb and return to where they are supposed to be. To do this we have you lay down and turn your head and roll you in various positions. It takes about 20 minutes. The bad news is we need to provoke the dizziness to get it to go away. I recommend you have a driver for the way home. The good news is you don’t have to take any medicine. And it’s really effective!
After the Epley Maneuver I don’t want you to do anything to provoke the dizziness for 48 hours. So this means no bending forward or laying flat.
– No bending forward
o When you bend, bend with your knees
– No laying flat
o Sleep on a 45 degree angle (about 3 pillows)
o Even better… sleep in your recliner
Vestibular Occular Reflex (VOR)
The VOR is a reflex that helps your head and your eyes coordinate. It tells them whether you want them to work together or separate. For example, if you are watching a car drive on a street, your head and eyes move together as you watch it drive by. But, if you are climbing up stairs, your body is moving up while your eyes slowly move down to stabilize your vision. That way you can maintain focus and not get dizzy even though you are moving. Your VOR reflex helps your brain and eyes know whether you want them to move together at the same speed, or move oppositely… depending on what you are doing.
At times, this VOR gets messed up. It can’t tell whether you want your head and eyes to move together, or whether you want them to move separately. The result is you get dizzy when you move. Which I’m sure is NOT what you intended!
People with VOR Dysfunction have dizziness with:
- Turning your head quickly
- Watching tv
- In busy places (lots of movement or lots of colors)
Is there anything you can do for this??? Well, in short… YES!
When your Vestibular Occular Reflex (VOR) is not working right, we can retrain it. Just like any of your body’s reactions, to improve upon it, you need to practice! If you want to catch a baseball better, how do you do this? If you want to dance better, what do you do? If you want to quilt better where should you start? The answer of course … is PRACTICE!
Your body works in the same way for balance and dizziness. We help train your body to do the things you have trouble with (ie- turning your head left and right, climbing up stairs, looking down) without getting dizzy. Then it will remember how to do this the next time you want to turn your head fast.
Are you ready to finally do something about that dizziness? Are you ready to improve your balance? Are you ready to stop falling? Are you ready to stop being scared? Are you ready to start getting back to the activities you enjoy and live your life? Then Contact Us Today at Lillington, NC Center!