Vertigo Explained

Hey CORE family… it’s Allyson and I wanted to do a blog with just information on vertigo… I have gotten a lot of patients with vertigo and there’s several causes. It’s more of a extreme dizzy spell, not like when your blood pressure sort of drops when you stand up and you have to gather your wits for a second, it’s more of like you can’t stand up, you’re holding onto the wall to not fall over, that kind of dizziness.

You could have reasons like Meniere’s disease or maybe some shock or trauma to the head. You could have tumors and and big things, migraine headaches can set off vertigo attacks but what I normally see is called BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo Benign meaning it’s a big deal because it’s happening to you but there’s not something super serious going on that needs surgery or anything and then it’s positional and it’s vertigo…

So what is happening with this, you have your inner ear, it’s these little circular canals in these different positions on both sides in your ears. They’re filled with fluid and they have small hair cells lining the inside of them. When you spin around several times that fluid starts moving and will bend those hair cells a little bit so the hair cells are saying ‘hey we’re going this way.’ It’s telling your brain we’re moving this way, so when you stop spinning, especially if you’ve done it for a little while, that fluid will still be moving around. So you’re stopped but you still feel like you’re moving… kind of like a teeny tiny version of a lazy river and think about that where the water is still going around bending that hair cell.

You have three systems of balance, one is that inner ear, those semicircular canals with the fluid and the hair cells. The second is your vision. You can see where the floor is and where the ceiling is and which ways up. The third is proprioception. You have nerves in your tendons and parts of your body telling your brain if you’re on your toes or if you’re on your heels, if you’re bent forward or sideways. Its tells where your joints are in space which is giving you feedback to say I’m balanced, or I need to adjust. I think my weights too far this way, I need to come this way. So when those three balancing systems aren’t working together… for example the fluid is still spinning but your vision is getting messed up because you know it should be straight, but your eyes start jumping, your tendons are telling you you’re still but that semicircular canal is not… so when they’re not meshing that’s when you have problems with balance and some problems with vertigo.

The kind of vertigo I normally see, the BPPV kind, is a crystal that they think is like a calcium deposit that gets lodged in one of those hair cells on the side of it. It kind of bends that hair cell permanently and that hair cell is giving feedback that I’m spinning… I’m spinning… I’m spinning and it’s not shutting off because it’s stuck there. So that’s the typical vertigo that I would see come in here and I hope that’s helped give you a little bit of an education of why this stuff is going on.

Do you or a friend need to get your dizziness assessed by a professional? It may be time to come in for our Free Discover Session to tell us your story. We can evaluate your condition, set goals to get you back to the things that this condition has got in the way of… Click HERE to APPLY

Here is some more info on vertigo:

Definition: Vertigo is a sensation of feeling off balance. If you have these dizzy spells, you might feel like you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning.

BPPV. These initials stand for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles (canaliths) clump up in canals of the inner ear. The inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity. It helps you keep your balance.

BPPV can occur for no known reason and may be associated with age.

Meniere’s disease

This is an inner ear disorder thought to be caused by a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss

Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis. This is an inner ear problem usually related to infection (usually viral). The infection causes inflammation in the inner ear around nerves that are important for helping the body sense balance

Less common causes include:

Head or neck trauma – you would know if this happened.

Stroke or tumor

Certain medications that cause ear damage

Migraine headaches

The most common I see is BPPV. This comes on suddenly usually with a quick change in direction of the head.  Sometimes I have seen it after a severe illness like the flu or stomach bug where there has been a sharp increase in pressure around the inner ear.

As a physical therapist in the Houston and Austin areas since 1995, Allyson has developed a gentle approach to whole body healing. At Core she has been able to spend more time personally with each client addressing the entire body and providing recovered clients with pilates training to keep them progressing.

“The one body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body.” Allyson uses this belief in three areas: First, in her approach to addressing areas of restriction throughout the body as a whole. Second, learning from co-workers, clients and other therapists taking pieces of wisdom and incorporating them into a whole treatment. Last, incorporating the pilates practice into discharge from physical therapy to continue parts of your recovery into a pursuit of health for your whole life. All parts making up one process of returning your body to health.

Her background in Total Motion Release techniques as well as Craniosacral Therapy, Strain/ Counterstrain and PIlates make for a holistic and gentle approach with quick results. The focus of her therapy is to empower the client with tools to heal themselves.

Allyson earned her B.S. in kinesiology at The University of Texas in 1992 and her M.S. in physical therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Houston in 1995. She has worked in pediatrics for 9 years also with great success treating pediatric orthopedic issues and infant torticollis with no crying!
Allyson Marshall