It's important for us to start with a huge DISCLAIMER here. Please see a physician before starting any kind of exercise regimen. What I am listing below is a very general outline of what usually works for patients after a thorough evaluation to confirm the cause of their symptoms. It may not work for everyone or every case and you should seek a formal evaluation and assessment of your concerns. In general, any time you feel numbness and/or tingling in your face, head or jaw, down your arms, or have an upset stomach, abnormal bowel/bladder movements, please discontinue the exercise and seek professional advice.
I am sure many of you have experienced dizziness at one point or another in your life. But for those who suffer from vertigo, dizziness doesn't even begin to describe the symptoms that can plague their everyday life. Today, I am discussing what vertigo is and what my go-to exercises are for people to do at home to alleviate their symptoms. Remember, these exercises don't work for everyone and they are only prescribed after a thorough initial evaluation. If you think you have vertigo, go seek a professional opinion.
So what is vertigo and where does it come from?
One of the main causes of vertigo is a specific type of it called BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. This is caused when crystals in your ear aren't flowing properly through the canals, creating that disorientation and dizziness. Other times, there is a neurological component to vertigo that can happen alongside headaches. It can also be due to a chemical imbalance or visual disturbances. All of these causes usually (but not always) creep up slowly over time.
Occasionally, a trauma such as whiplash in a car accident or a concussion can cause things to get screwy and set you up for vertigo.
What are the common symptoms of vertigo?
Fear of moving too quickly
Visual disturbances/hard to focus
Below are three of my favorite vertigo related exercises depending on what might be causing it!
Epley's Maneuver is a fan favorite among Physical Therapists for those who suffer from BPPV specifically. This exercise resets the crystals in your ear causing the dizziness. Yes, it's a tedious exercise, but we use these different angles to work each of the three places in the inner ear. It is highly effective for those who suffer from BPPV.
Exercises geared toward improving your eye tracking can help gaze stabilization. What does that mean for you? Our eyes and their alignment can play games with our brains and fool us into thinking we are dizzy causing those vertigo spells. If your vertigo is caused by your eyes, these Visual Ocular Reflex (VOR) exercises can strengthen your eyes and relieve symptoms.
It may seem odd that I'm adding a neck stabilization exercise to my list of favorites for vertigo. But if your neck is unstable, it doesn't matter if our inner ear and eyes are fine. Everything above it will be messed up. No point in having a perfectly efficient house if it's sitting on quicksand as its foundation!
If you think you have vertigo, we recommend getting it checked out by your local physical therapist so that they can formally evaluate your symptoms and prescribe exercises that are right for you!
Remember, we can and we will get better together!
Dr. Justin C. Lin