Vestibular Rehabilitation Explained1st December 2019
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is the diagnosis and treatment of dizziness and imbalance often as a result of problems of the inner ear. At the Rehab Hub it is provided by Annie Head, who has over ten years experience in this field.
You may or may not already have a diagnosis of a problem within your inner ear. Possibly you are experiencing some of the symptoms described in the following list of conditions, in each which case Annie will assess and treat accordingly.
Commonly treated problems of the inner ear:
- BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)
This is caused by the build up of particles or crystals inside the inner ear (semi circular canals). Movement of these particles causes fluid imbalance resulting in mild to severe dizziness when moving in certain positions. Physiotherapy can treat the problem using specific ‘repositioning manoeuvres’ as well as head and eye exercises to treat any balance issues.
- Vestibular Neuritis (labyrinthitis)
This is caused by a viral infection of the inner ear. Initially you may experience a sudden onset of dizziness accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, problems with vision, hearing and general sense of imbalance. Whilst most people recover from these symptoms over time, some people find their ‘balance system’ struggles to return to normal and therefore would benefit from physiotherapy to help ’retrain’ the balance centre with a series of head, eye and balance exercises.
- Migraine Associated Dizziness/Vertigo (MAV)
This is where people experience dizziness/vertigo as a symptom of their migraine. You can have MAV without a headache. You may also experience nausea, speech problems and an intolerance to light or noise. Your GP may have prescribed specific medication to help with your symptoms and vestibular rehabilitation can aid self-management of the condition by advising on specific exercises, diet and lifestyle changes.
- Meniere’s Disease
This characterised by repeated attacks of intense dizziness, often associated with gradual hearing loss over time. Although current treatments cannot cure the condition, vestibular rehabilitation can help by providing exercises to improve balance, self-management and coping strategies. Certain medications can also help which can be prescribed by your GP or specialist consultant.
- Cervicogenic Dizziness (dizziness associated with neck pain/stiffness)
This can be difficult to diagnose and is often provided to people when other causes of dizziness have been ruled out. Treatment of the neck pain and stiffness will often resolve symptoms, but vestibular rehabilitation may also be helpful to address any residual balance/visual symptoms.
- Acoustic Neuroma
Vestibular rehabilitation is often suggested after surgical removal of the neuroma which has grown on the vestibular nerve. Aims of rehabilitation are to reduce dizziness and improve balance and mobility.
What can I expect at my initial appointment?
A thorough history of your symptoms will be taken followed by an examination involving various eye and movement/balance tests to establish the possible cause(s) of your problem. The appointment will last up to an hour and you will be given advice and some possibly exercises to start. It is worth bringing someone with you to the initial consultation particularly if you are driving, as some of the tests may make you feel dizzier for a short period of time. This is particularly important for people with BPPV.
If you have any questions about the assessment or whether you feel Vestibular Rehabilitation could help you, please do not hesitate to email or telephone Annie Head directly.