Finding Balance: Dizziness and Physical Therapy

Dizziness is common affecting between 15% and 20% of people each year, and it can significantly impact daily life. Feeling unsteady, lightheaded, or like the room is spinning is alarming and makes daily tasks difficult. The good news is that dizziness often has treatable causes, and your physical therapist can be the perfect person to help.

Understanding Dizziness

Dizziness isn’t a specific problem—it’s a symptom that can be caused by many different issues. Feeling dizzy most commonly occurs due to issues with the inner ear, but it can also occur due to vision, joint or muscle issues in the neck, migraines, changes in blood pressure, head injuries, or other neurological problems.

How Physical Therapists Help

Physical therapists are known as movement and musculoskeletal experts, but they also frequently treat balance and dizziness issues. Balance relies on a complex interplay between the inner ear, vision, and sensory input from your joints. When this information becomes conflicting, the brain struggles to interpret it, leading to a feeling of dizziness, unsteadiness, or vertigo.

Physical therapists assess all these systems to pinpoint the underlying cause of dizziness. This tailored approach leads to an effective treatment plan. That plan might include:

  • Exercises: Your physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises to improve your balance, strengthen or stretch specific muscles, or help retrain your brain to interpret sensory information. This can include gaze stabilization exercises, which help your eyes and inner ears work better together; habituation exercises, which help your brain get used to different types of input; and balance training on various surfaces.
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers (CRM): If your dizziness is caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a specific type of inner ear problem, your therapist may perform maneuvers to reposition tiny crystals within your ear canal, alleviating your vertigo. Your PT can also teach you how and when to safely do these at home.
  • Education: Your physical therapist will educate you about your condition, how to manage dizziness, and exercises you can perform at home. They may also help you modify activities that cause dizziness or train you on ways to work through it.

Dizziness can stop people in their tracks, but it doesn’t have to interfere with life. Physical therapists offer effective treatment options to reduce dizziness, regain and improve balance, lower the risk of falls, and increase confidence in daily activities so you can get moving again and get back to the activities you enjoy.

If dizziness is impacting your life, contact Northern Rehab for an evaluation; several of our physical therapists specialize in treating dizziness and vestibular issues. Learn more about dizziness and vestibular treatment here >