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  • Vertigo Johnston, Des Moines & Ankeny, IA


    Vertigo is the feeling of rocking or rotation when you are perfectly still. It can last seconds, minutes, hours or even days. Medically, it is different from dizziness because it involves the sensation of movement. Vertigo is often due to a problem in the inner ear. An important part of the inner ear is the collection of semicircular canals. These structures are lined with cells that act like a gyroscope for the body and are responsible for providing feedback on our position.

    Causes and Risk Factors for Vertigo

    There are a variety of causes for this condition. The cause may be central or peripheral. Central causes occur in the spinal cord or brain, while peripheral is due to a problem with the inner ear. An illness or small crystals in the inner ear that become displaced can cause irritation within the semicircular canals. This is a central cause and known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). With Meniere’s disease, there is a fluid buildup in the inner ear that can cause vertigo. Headaches, head injuries, strokes, tumors, and multiple sclerosis can also cause vertigo.

    Head injuries definitely increase the risk factor for vertigo. In addition, antidepressants, aspirin, blood pressure medications, and anti-seizure meds can also cause vertigo. For some, alcohol can cause vertigo.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    To diagnose vertigo, a medical professional will take a full history of your symptoms and events. This includes previous medical issues, recent illnesses, and medications. Then, a physical exam is performed. It includes a comprehensive neurological exam to check brain function. This allows for the determination of whether it’s peripheral or central. Signs of abnormal eye movement may pinpoint the problem. The Dix-Hallpike test or the roll test may be done. The Dix-Hallpike test repositions the head and monitors symptoms. With the roll test, the head is rapidly moved from side to side. A CT scan or MRI may be done to exclude structural problems.

    Sometimes, electronystagmography may be performed.

    The most effective treatments if the vertigo is peripheral include partial repositioning movements. It’s known as the canalith repositioning procedure or the Epley maneuver. Specific head movements are performed to move the crystals in the inner ear. Cawthorne head exercises may also be performed. It’s a series of head and eye movements. This leads to decreased sensitivity of the nerves and improves vertigo. However, this needs to be done on a regular basis for optimal results. A trained physical therapist can perform these types of treatment. Keep in mind that medications may provide some relief but are not a cure. Meclizine is the most popular medication prescribed.

    The Prognosis

    Most patients with peripheral vertigo can find substantial relief with treatment; it has been suggested that the Epley maneuver in cases of BPPV can benefit as many as 90% of affected patients. Recurrence of BPPV may be more than 15% in the first year after an episode. When vertigo persists, an evaluation in our clinic may be beneficial to address your underlying cause of vertigo.

    Are you feeling dizzy with a sense of movement? You just might be experiencing vertigo. Make your world stop spinning with the help of our experienced and certified physical therapists. They can even give you instruction on how to perform certain exercises at home that can reduce your vertigo. Be sure to make a request to set up a one-on-one consultation and full evaluation of your symptoms from Johnston Physical Therapy or Elevate Physical Therapy. We’ve helped many others and can help you too.

    For more information, Contact us at Johnston, Des Moines & Ankeny, IA centers.