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Balance and Dizziness

What causes dizziness and loss of balance?

The human body’s system for maintaining balance is extremely intricate and is made up of numerous organs that all have to work together perfectly.

It is a very sensitive system. If any one of these organs isn’t functioning perfectly, then we will feel it as a loss of ability to balance as well, or possibly dizziness. The parts of the body that are included in our balance system include:

  • Feet and ankles
  • Leg muscles
  • Inner ear
  • Eyes
  • Neck
  • Nerve fibers that take information to the brain
  • Nerve fibers that take information from the brain to the muscles of the body
  • The brain itself

Our ability to maintain balance is automatic, meaning that it happens without us thinking about it.

There are a wide number of factors that can cause any of the above structures to function less than perfectly. These factors include:

  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Muscle injury, weakness or tightness
  • Dehydration
  • Side effects of many medications
  • Anxiety (which can also be caused by an imbalance or dizziness)
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Neurological conditions
  • High salt diet
  • Joint injury or stiffness
  • Vision problems
  • Spinal injury
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Postural changes

 

How can I find out what is the cause of my Balance and Dizziness problem?

Usually our Doctors of Physical Therapy can determine the causes of your Balance and Dizziness in just one FREE 30 minute Balance and Dizziness Analysis. If you would like to schedule that analysis, click here for easy, online scheduling.

 

What can trigger vertigo?

Vertigo is the feeling that you are spinning and dizzy. For us to maintain normal balance, our inner ears each need to send the correct information about our position and movement to our brain. Then the brain needs to be able to process that information correctly.

There are a number of things that can go wrong in this system that can cause vertigo. One of the more common is a condition called “Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo” or BPPV.

We have structures in our inner ears that tell our brain if we are moving, what direction we are moving in and how fast we are moving. Sometimes crystals can form in our inner ears, or get out of their correct position, which can cause these structures to malfunction.

This can result in one of our inner ears telling the brain that we are moving rapidly, when we are not. This can be interpreted by the brain as a signal that we are spinning. Thankfully, BPPV is usually treated effectively in just one to two sessions of Physical Therapy.

However, there are more serious conditions that can also cause vertigo. These can range from inner ear infections through to neurological problems. To determine whether you should see a neurological specialist, you may wish to schedule your Free Balance and Dizziness Analysis.

 

What is the role of medications in Balance and Dizziness?

There are a wide variety of medications that can actually cause Balance and Dizziness symptoms. This is because our Balance and Dizziness System includes so many sensitive organs and structures within the body. The potential for a medicine to cause balance and dizziness problems should be included in the warnings section of the medication literature.

There are also a number of medications that may be prescribed for Balance and Dizziness problems. For a specific type of Balance problem, called Meniere’s Disease, water pills may be prescribed. There are also medications that aim to specifically relieve the feeling of dizziness or being off balance. These can be helpful to reduce the symptoms, but if the underlying problem does not start to improve after a few days, these medications may actually prolong the condition. Some people find benefit from taking anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium or Xanax. Unfortunately, these medications may also cause drowsiness and can be addictive.

Because there are so many causes of Balance and Dizziness problems, it is important to take the right medication for your specific condition.

 

How can Physical Therapy help Balance and Dizziness Problems?

As mentioned above, our Balance System is made up of a wide range of structures and organs. Quite literally, these stretch from your head to your toes.

An evaluation by a  Doctor of Physical Therapy is a great first step in determining the cause of a Balance or Dizziness problem. We can usually work out what part(s) of the body are causing the problem. If we aren’t sure, we will refer you to a Physician for more in-depth testing.

Most Balance and Dizziness problems are caused by structures outside of the brain and nervous system. For all of these problems, Physical Therapy and Vestibular Therapy are the widely acknowledged, best approach for long term relief from Balance and Dizziness problems.

Once the structures at fault are determined, treatment may include exercises in which the head is moved in very specific ways; exercises that train the eyes to function more correctly; exercises to train the inner ear to function more correctly; hands-on treatment of the spine to improve the required nerve signal transmission; stretches and strengthening exercises to allow the postural and balance muscles to perform at a higher level; balance training strategies to improve balance reactions, home exercises to allow you to progress consistently on your own and stay healthy; education regarding changes you can make in your home environment and home activities to reduce the chances of falling.

Our Balance and Dizziness program is extensive. To understand all that can be achieved for you, simply schedule your Free Balance and Dizziness Assessment by clicking here.