Spinning Out of Control

Physical Therapy Serves as Effective Treatment Option for Vertigo Patients

Image of Physical Therapy PatientImagine you’re standing still, but the world around you is moving or spinning. While it may only last a minute or so, it can impact your ability to walk or may cause you to feel like you’re going to fall over or pass out. This unwelcome feeling is all too common for patients who suffer from vertigo.

The body relies on the inner ear in order to keep its balance. Within the ear are many tiny parts – one of which contains calcium crystals. In some people, the crystals can move out of place. When this happens, the system no longer works as it should and the inner ear fails to sense head and body position and motion.

Vertigo can have several causes and patients often think there are no effective treatment options. However, when vertigo is the result of an inner ear disorder, physical therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms in many patients in just a few treatments.

“After performing a thorough evaluation we can typically sort out the underlying issue causing a patient’s vertigo or dizziness,” said physical therapist, Shannon Logsdon, PT. “From there we develop a treatment plan that can include specific maneuvers for correction of positional vertigo. Treatments may also include balance and movement exercises, and interventions to improve neck mobility. We help patients become aware of what movements trigger their symptoms, such as rolling in bed or standing up out of a chair, and help them to decrease fall risk.”

While the treatment time varies, most patients tend to see results in one to two sessions with a Lakeland physical therapist. If a patient suffers from other inner ear disorders, central nervous system issues, blood pressure changes, medication side effects, or vision issues they may also need to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) or a nervous system doctor (neurologist).

“Treating patients with vestibular dysfunction, or vertigo, is very rewarding,” said Shannon. “It is an awesome experience to have someone come to you who is fearful of falling or holding onto walls and walking slowly, turn into someone who can move in all the ways they did before therapy and go back to their daily activities.”

After suffering from spinning “episodes” for nearly three years which forced her to walk using a cane for fear of falling, Ruth Thornton of Watervliet was finally able to put a name to her condition. She began working with physical therapists from Lakeland Rehabilitation Services over the course of six weeks to regain control of her life.

To learn more about how physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for vertigo, or to read Ruth’s full story, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/vertigo

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