Memorial Health - October 18, 2021
by Ashley Linton, PT, DPT

Dizziness, or vertigo, is a common condition that can severely hinder your quality of life. Dizziness can cause difficulty getting out of bed, bending over or walking. As a vestibular and neurological therapist, I have seen the debilitating nature of these symptoms and how they can put a stop to active people being able to enjoy their lives. Fortunately for you, physical therapy can help eliminate or drastically reduce your symptoms.

A physical therapist will first need to perform an evaluation to determine the cause of your dizziness. There are three types of dizziness:

Type 1: Light-headedness

This type of dizziness is usually characterized by a "funny feeling" in the head often accompanied by a quick change in position such as lying down to sitting up or sitting to standing. This dizziness is usually brief in nature. Most often, this type of dizziness is due to a sudden drop in blood pressure when you obtain new gravity-dependent position. Moving your legs and arms prior to changing positions may help to get the blood flowing to improve circulation. Moving through these positions slower may also help decrease the feelings of light-headedness. If you are still experiencing light-headedness, you may need to consult a doctor - it could be a medication side effect or something else.

Type 2: Imbalance

Sometimes being off balance can make you feel "dizzy." Balance is made up of three components: your vision, the sensation you feel through your feet (proprioception), and your vestibular system. If you are experiencing changes in your vision, you may need to contact your doctor for a visual exam. If you are having problem with your proprioception or vestibular system, physical therapy can help. Physical therapists perform a balance assessment on even and uneven surfaces and prescribe specific exercises to help your balance and reduce your fall risk.

Type 3: Positional vertigo

This type of dizziness is often fixed in 1-2 visits. Positional vertigo is characterized by a "spinning" sensation that usually lasts less than a minute and occurs most frequently when rolling in bed, bending over, or looking up. This can also be one of the most debilitating forms of dizziness because it can provoke nausea and vomiting which can cause you to be home-bound for the duration of the episode. This type of vertigo is called BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). BPPV is caused by the crystals in your inner ear being out of place, causing your body to feel as though it is spinning. To diagnose BPPV, a physical therapist will perform positional maneuvers (moving from sitting to lying down) and will examine your eyes. If certain eye movements (called nystagmus) are seen, then your head will be turned through specific positions to put your inner ear crystals “back into place”. This will eliminate the dizziness and return you back to your normal activities.

Memorial Health offers vestibular rehab in both our Savannah and Pooler locations. Please call (912) 350-7128 to schedule an appointment at the Savannah location and (912)273-1000 to schedule an appointment at the Pooler location.