Dizziness and Vertigo is reported to affect up to 48.3% of adults yearly 1. That matches or exceeds the prevalence of low back pain and migraine type headache! So why don’t we hear about these symptoms more often? We know that many people tend to poorly treat and manage these problems, and even more are thought to suffer in silence, often finding it difficult to even articulate the problem itself to seek help.
When I deal with a patient who is suffering with complaints of dizziness or vertigo, I ask them to explain their symptoms without using the word “Dizzy”. The answers I get back are wide ranging and sometimes surprising. Does any of the following sound familiar to you?
“I feel unstable” “My husband tells me I’m walking like I’m drunk!”
“I feel out of it” “Well, I have to take everything a bit slower”
“I just don’t lie on my right side… ever”
“I feel like the world is moving underneath me!”
Sensations of feeling unsteady, light-headed, being fearful of falling, & being off
-balance can all be symptoms associated with dizziness, vertigo and balance dysfunction.
Your balance system is the coordination of a number of your senses at once. Your eyes give
you visual information about your position in the world, your inner ear detects movement in
360 degrees, and your body (from your feet up to the top of your neck) can feel it’s own
position in space.
These systems communicate with each other to keep us upright and
moving and keep the world in focus for us. When they deteriorate and malfunction, we can
slow down and become unsteady. And when they disagree with each other, we can feel
dizzy, as if we’re spinning, or often that the world is moving when it’s not.
The term “Vertigo” means that you have the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning. It is a symptom and not a diagnosis. However this is
the diagnosis that people carry around as an explanation for their symptoms which can really
restrict them in their daily activities.
A specialist branch of physiotherapy known as “Vestibular rehabilitation” is a
scientifically proven and effective treatment for many complaints of dizziness, vertigo and
symptoms just like I’ve mentioned above2. In fact, among interventions used in
physiotherapy, treatment of certain balance disorders is the most effective treatment
technique that a physio has in their repertoire, with a successful outcome of up to 90% seen
after only 1-2 treatments with certain conditions! 3.
Complaints of dizziness and issues with your balance can develop gradually with no
specific cause, or can be post traumatic; occuring after road traffic accidents, or falls. These
issues can also be prevalent after infections (such as labyrinthitis & vestibular neuritis), or in
people with Vestibular pathology such as Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional
vertigo (BPPV), or Vestibular Migraine.
If you suffer with balance problems or dizziness, you are significantly more likely to
experience a fall, and also more likely to suffer serious injury from that fall. Vestibular rehab
can reduce your risk of falls, and improve your quality of life dramatically if these are
complaints that you suffer from.
I am one of the Senior Physiotherapists working from DBC Ashleaf. I specialise in the
assessment and treatment of dizziness and balance disorders. I am available Monday-Friday for both morning and evening appointments. Book online or contact 01 465 2454 to book an appointment today.
- Ian Kenny MISCP (Senior Physiotherapist)
- Bisdorff, A., Bosser, G., Gueguen, R. and Perrin, P., 2013. The Epidemiology of Vertigo, Dizziness, and
Unsteadiness and Its Links to Co-Morbidities. Frontiers in Neurology, 4.
- Hillier S, McDonnell M. Is vestibular rehabilitation effective in improving dizziness and function after
unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction? An abridged version of a Cochrane Review. Eur J Phys
Rehabil Med. 2016 Aug;52(4):541-56.
- Gaur S, Awasthi SK, Bhadouriya SK, Saxena R, Pathak VK, Bisht M. 2015 Efficacy of Epley’s Maneuver
in Treating BPPV Patients: A Prospective Observational Study. Int J Otolaryngol. 2015;2015:487160