Vertigo is a condition which triggers an unpleasant feeling of dizziness and can affect your balance and motion perception. You may also suffer from nausea, vomiting and a feeling of disorientation. Depending on the severity, vertigo can be mildly annoying or completely debilitating.
There are several causes of vertigo, and the treatment you'll need depends on which type of vertigo you have. Cervicogenic vertigo is affected by neck and spinal movements, so you might feel more extreme symptoms when turning your head or stretching. This type of vertigo can often be treated effectively using physiotherapy. Read on for details on exactly how physiotherapy could help you.
Before attempting to treat your vertigo, a physiotherapist will make sure to rule out causes that may be better treated using different methods. Vertigo may be caused by an ear infection, which could be treated using antibiotics; by a condition like Ménière's disease, which is caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear and is usually treated with diuretics and changes to diet and lifestyle; or by Vestibular neuronitis, which is believed to be caused by a virus and usually lasts only a few weeks. Once your physiotherapist is satisfied that your particular case could benefit from musculoskeletal physiotherapy, then they will be able to proceed with treatment.
Treatment will usually focus on strengthening the neck area and improving posture. Your physiotherapist will carry out gentle neck and shoulder exercises which take your joints through their full range of motion, helping to increase strength and reduce pain and inflammation. You may also receive a gentle massage, which should help remove any tension which is contributing to your vertigo. It's possible that you may feel more extreme vertigo during treatment which will then quickly subside. Your physiotherapist will monitor your comfort levels and will not recommend any exercises that could be harmful. In some cases, you'll be taken through gaze and balance stability exercises, which will help you feel more balanced when moving around.
It's important to apply what you have learned during physiotherapy about posture and gaze to your everyday life. Your therapist may give you specific exercises to practice at home — these could be stretches, walking exercises or gentle head and neck movements. You may also be instructed to use special products to improve your posture. If you spend a lot of time sitting down, then a chair that's designed to support your back and neck and keep you sitting up straight is a good idea. If you type a lot on a computer, then an ergonomic mouse and keyboard will help reduce strain and tension while working.