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Is your world spinning? You may have vertigo. Vertigo is defined as 'the sensation of the world spinning around you', or the illusion of movement. This can occur spontaneously or with a knock to the head and is related to the vestibular system of the inner ear.
Our balance is controlled by three main systems – vision, sensation from the body – referred to as proprioception (typically the contact of our feet on the ground) and the vestibular system. We often over rely on our vision which is why if you sprain your ankle, your Rehab Physio will give you exercise to progress your balance that include you standing on one leg with your eyes closed and standing on a thick pillow or wobble board.
The vestibular system of your inner ear relies on small calcium carbonate particles called otoliths that move around with your head and relate to your vision and sensation to give you a sense of where you are in space. When the messages from these inputs don’t line up, you can experience motion sickness – i.e. travelling in a car or boat.
If the otoliths are trapped in the wrong area of your inner ear, then it will send the wrong reading relative to your position or movement. This is often most obvious when you get out of bed. If you are experiencing these symptoms then see a physio that is trained in vestibular rehabilitation – this will address the cause by doing specific manoeuvres to return the otoliths to the correct position to abolish your vertigo. This is a more effective treatment that taking prescribed antiemetics which reduce the symptoms of nausea but do not address the cause of why you might be feeling nauseous.
If you think this might be you, a trained physiotherapist will take a full history and do a number of tests to make sure that the condition is vertigo (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV) and perform the appropriate treatment. They are trained to rule out any other causes and know when to refer on for further investigation.
We’re here to help.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with vestibular issues – give us a call now.
About the Author
Roy Dookia — Senior Physiotherapist
Roy is a New Zealand trained Physiotherapist, completing his degree at the University of Otago in 2007. Roy is very holistic in his treatment approach and considers contributions from all parts of the body when resolving injuries.