Vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance can be clues that there may be a problem with the inner ear. Sometimes a physio is able to treat the problem in one session! A thorough examination to establish a diagnosis is essential.
The vestibular apparatus of the inner ear works much like a spirit level in providing you with a sense of balance. Hair cells sit like sea-weed within a fluid and when the head moves, the hair cells are stimulated to detect motion. On top of the ‘sea’ sit tiny crystals (rocks), which weigh down the fluid and assist the sensitivity of the feedback. A nerve then carries this information back to the brain where it’s integrated with information from other sensory systems to give you an overall picture of where you are in space.
When there’s a problem with this system, you get bogus feedback and may feel sick, vertigo, dizzy, and/or imbalanced.
One of the common problems is called ‘positional vertigo’, whereby the rocks become displaced. A vestibular-trained physio is able to test for this and thenprovide a treatment (basically positioning the head in a series of movements to put the crystals back where they should be). Sounds crazy but there’s excellent evidence that this works – check it out here.
By Daniel English, Physiotherapist
Watch a interview with Daniel as he discusses vertigo, dizziness and how physio may help.