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What’s the Deal With Vertigo?

Runners can experience typical ailments just like non-runners, and exploring these topics can make a huge difference in your life. My last blog explored how headaches can often be caused by issues arising from the neck, and today’s blog will investigate vertigo. This is a common problem that most people have either experienced personally or have had a loved one experience.

Vertigo goes by many names and can be described as room spinning, dizziness, feeling like you are on a boat or even a swimming sensation. Experiencing vertigo at one point or another is actually quite common.

But did you know that PTs can treat dizziness and vertigo as well? It’s true! In fact, I have experience working in a dizziness and balance clinic that treated these patients daily. In my opinion, it is one of the best things to treat because results can usually be obtained quickly and can have a huge impact on your quality of life. If you have had vertigo, you know exactly how debilitating it is.

But do you have dizziness or vertigo that can be treated by a PT? This can be a difficult question to answer via blog, and often it will require a visit to see me to know for sure. However, rest assured that we can usually impact your symptoms quickly. Vertigo and dizziness frequently are related to the inner ear:

Photo Source: staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014".

When examining the causes of vertigo, we could list hundreds of topics to investigate. The first one to clear up can be any recent changes in medication. If you have recently changed medications and are now experiencing dizziness or vertigo, it warrants a call to your physician. If you have not recently changed medications, let’s look at a few different causes we can treat.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Well that is certainly a mouthful. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, BPPV for short, is a common cause of vertigo and is often characterized by intense bouts of vertigo that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. This condition happens when tiny “crystals” in your inner ear called otoconia get a little too rowdy and become dislodged. When this happens, one of your ears believes you are spinning rapidly, and the other does not. As you can imagine, this is a very unpleasant sensation. The good news about BPPV is that it can be treated with simple maneuvers to reposition the crystals back where they belong.

Symptoms: dizziness/vertigo with rolling over, changing head positions, sitting up

Vestibular Hypofunction

We certainly are breaking out the fancy science words today, aren’t we? Well, a vestibular hypofunction can be caused by many different issues and is often used as a catchall phrase. What you need to know is that for this condition, something has happened that is affecting the ability of your inner ear balance centers to send accurate information to your brain. When this happens, it creates a persistent sense of dizziness, unsteadiness, uneasiness or spinning. This can be very intense at first but then settles down and is persistent for weeks or even months.

Symptoms: dizziness/vertigo, unsteadiness, imbalance, difficulty walking down grocery aisles (really!), spinning

Other Causes of Vertigo

As we mentioned earlier, vertigo and dizziness can be caused by a multitude of issues that we don’t have enough time to list here. Some other ones of note include orthostatic hypotension, which is a dizziness that occurs when getting up from sitting or lying down. Or dizziness that may occur following whiplash or concussion. Or dizziness that comes from your neck (remember my last blog?). It can be complicated to know which health care provider to see first, but rest assured we can set you in the right direction if we cannot help.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? Have you or has someone you know experienced these conditions? Remember, runners are human just like anyone else, and we can’t just be concerned with your knee or back pain! Here at Precision we are concerned with your whole person, not just how you run.

If you want to discuss more, feel free to call or email me today!

Talk to you soon,



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