Vertigo treatment

Overview

If you’ve been diagnosed with vertigo, we understand that it can be very unsettling. If you have vertigo, you may experience dizziness and moderate to severe false spinning sensations that can cause loss of balance, disorientation (which may cause falls) vomiting, sweating and severe nausea. It’s important to identify the cause of your vertigo symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.

The most common type of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This type of vertigo is caused by calcium carbonate crystals (ear rocks) falling or being dislodged in the inner ear. Other causes of vertigo include:

  • Labyrinthitis
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Acoustic neuroma / Vestibular Schwannoma
  • Perilymph fistula
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Disequilibrium and other balance disorders

Vertigo requires evaluation not only to direct treatment but to be certain it is not a symptom of a more serious underlying disorder in the ear or nervous system. After evaluation to determine the cause of your vertigo, your doctor will recommend an individualized treatment plan, which may include:

  • Medications, including muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety drugs
  • Balance retraining, utilizing both static and dynamic balance exercises
  • Sensory organization training
  • Gaze stabilization exercises
  • Habituation exercises
  • Compensatory strategies (behavioral strategies to achieve rehabilitation goals)
  • Aerobic conditioning

If your physician suspects BPPV, your doctor may recommend Canalith repositioning treatment (CRT), also known as the Epley Maneuver, which involves a series of maneuvers performed in order to cause the calcium crystals to be repositioned back into their normal location. The procedure has been found to be effective in the majority of patients diagnosed with BPPV.

Risks

The Canalith repositioning treatment (CRT) is a safe and effective treatment for BPPV and does not carry significant risk. It is important to note that CRT is not always successful on the first try and sometimes requires multiple visits.

Vestibular rehabilitation also has a low-risk factor. Your physical therapist will be there to guide you through the exercises and to ensure your safety.

If you are being treated with medications for your vertigo, always check with your doctor to determine the individual risks associated with the specific medications being prescribed for your condition.

What to expect after treatment

Upon completion of the Canalith repositioning treatment (CRT) your doctor may ask you to wear a cervical collar to limit your head movement for 24 hours, and/or to keep your head elevated (including during sleep) for the following few days and nights.

Your physical therapy-based vestibular rehabilitation will extend over a period of weeks or even months depending on the severity of your symptoms.