Feeling Off Balance? Physical Therapy May Help Vertigo

Oct 1 | , , ,


Anyone who has experienced sudden dizziness, feeling that the room is spinning, nausea and a fear of falling may have been going through an episode of vertigo.

Vertigo is one of the most common causes of a sensation of spinning when you’re standing or sitting still. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is described as brief episodes of dizziness that range from mild to intense, and symptoms are triggered when you change the position of your head. This can happen lying down or sitting up, rolling over in bed or tilting your chin up or down. You might also feel unbalanced when walking or standing. Other causes of vertigo include:

  • Migraines
  • Inner ear infections or conditions
  • Tumors
  • Surgery
  • Head injuries
  • Stroke
  • A hole in the inner ear

Additional Symptoms of vertigo include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling unsteady
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting

While vertigo can be disconcerting, it’s rarely a serious condition, and physical therapy can be used to treat the issue.

How physical therapy can help treat vertigo
Seeing a physical therapist is beneficial for vertigo sufferers who have damage to their inner ears that’s been fixed. Physical therapy providers can help restore balance through training and different exercises.

There are a variety of movements and actions that can help to ease the symptoms of vertigo. One option is head movement exercises.

You will sit tall in a chair with proper posture, which includes:

  • Sitting with both feet planted firmly on the floor
  • Your back straight
  • Your shoulders pulled back slightly and stacked over your hips

The physical therapist will have you keep your eyes open and use your neck muscles to bend your head forward and backward, beginning slowly and increasing speed. Next, you’ll be asked to tilt your head from side to side. As your symptoms of vertigo improve, the therapist may ask you to complete these motions with your eyes closed.

The physical therapist may also use eye movement exercises to help your body become re-accustomed to the feeling of moving your eyes around without getting dizzy. These exercises can be done sitting or standing, and the therapist might have you look up and down or left to right a number of times, starting slowly and then getting faster as you go.

Once you’re cleared by your primary doctor, a physical therapist can include total body exercises in the treatment plan, such as walking back and forth and turning your head while your eyes are open.

For patients suffering from BPPV, physical therapy providers may use something called particle positioning maneuvers, which helps relocate octonia in the inner ear. Octonia are tiny calcium carbonate crystals located in the inner ear that are part of the balance mechanism. Particle positioning maneuvers include a series of turns with the body that help move the octonia into a different part of the inner ear where the patient won’t experience vertigo symptoms.

Finding the right physical therapist
Vertigo patients will want to find a physical therapist who has experience treating individuals with neurological issues. You can search for a therapist using Preferred Therapy’s provider locator tool.


This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.