What’s Causing My Vertigo?

Have you ever experienced sudden dizziness or a sensation in which you felt as if the world was spinning around you? Besides feeling dizzy, you may have also felt nauseous or even vomited. Chances are, you had what’s known as vertigo.

What you may not know is that there is physical therapy for balance disorders, and it can help with your vertigo!

Here’s what you need to know about vertigo, along with how physical therapy from Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab can help.

What Is Vertigo? 

Contrary to what many people think, vertigo is not a disease. Instead, it’s a symptom of a condition. Put simply, Vertigo is an abnormal feeling of movement that occurs when you are not in motion.

Often, it’s described as a spinning or dizzy sensation in which you feel imbalanced, unsteady, or faint. Many people with vertigo feel dizzy. However, not everyone who experiences dizziness has vertigo.

There are two types of vertigo: peripheral and central.

Peripheral Vertigo

If you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral vertigo, you’re not alone as this is the most common type. Usually, peripheral vertigo is the result of issues in the inner ear that control balance.

Common Causes of Peripheral Vertigo

Meniere’s Disease

This is a disease that creates an accumulation of fluid in the inner ear, which can result in vertigo attacks. Besides having ringing in the ears, people with Meniere’s disease can suffer from hearing loss. It’s not exactly certain what causes this condition, but it may be the result of a viral infection. Other causes may include blood vessel constriction, genes, or an autoimmune reaction.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

The symptom known as benign paroxysmal position vertigo (BPPV) is another common cause of peripheral vertigo, affecting more than 50 percent of all vertigo cases. BPPV involves the structures in the inner ear (otolith organs). Along with fluid, these structures contain calcium carbonate crystals that have become dislocated and have fallen into the semicircular canals.

When a fallen crystal touches the sensory hair cells of someone who is moving, the person’s brain receives faulty information regarding their position, which leads to a spinning sensation and dizziness. Usually, people with BPPV have episodes of vertigo lasting less than a minute, although they may feel nauseous and experience other symptoms. Even though it generally occurs in people aged 50 and older, it can happen to anyone.


The disorder known as labyrinthitis can occur as a result of an infection creating inflammation in the inner ear labyrinth. The vestibulocochlear nerve, which lies in this area, transmits information to an affected person’s brain regarding head motion, sound, and position. Apart from feeling dizzy, someone with labyrinthitis may suffer from ear pain, headaches, tinnitus, hearing loss, and vision changes.

Vestibular Neuritis

Somewhat like labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis is the inflammation of the vestibular nerve. But unlike labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis doesn’t affect hearing. This condition causes vertigo that can include symptoms such as severe nausea and blurred vision. It can also impact equilibrium, making you feel unsteady.

Central Vertigo

Meanwhile, central vertigo can be the result of head injuries, brain tumors, migraines, and other conditions. After finding the cause of vertigo, a doctor or physical therapist in NEPA can show patients how to manage the problem.

Other Causes of Vertigo

Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA)   

A cerebrovascular accident or CVA is the medical term used for a stroke. A stroke occurs from blood flow being stopped to a part of the brain. It can also be from a ruptured blood vessel.

Multiple Sclerosis 

Sometimes, vertigo is the result of MS (multiple sclerosis) lesions in the cerebellum. Furthermore, it can be caused by damage to the nerves controlling the vestibular functions of the ear. People with MS may feel lightheaded, off-balance, and disoriented.

Neurodegenerative Disorders

Vertigo can be caused by neurodegenerative disorders. These are disorders affecting the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nerves, and the cranial nerves of the autonomic nervous system. Although there are many neurodegenerative disorders, the ones that are the most notable are Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.


If you have vertigo, it’s important you get treated. Failing to address this problem can result in several issues, such as:

  • Impact mobility—when you feel dizzy and off-balance, you tend to move less since you want to avoid the symptoms of vertigo
  • Impair balance and equilibrium
  • Cause feelings of dizziness and unsteadiness
  • Increase the risk of falling

How Physical Therapy in NEPA Can Help

If you have ever wondered, “What’s causing my vertigo?” then you should know help is available! One of the best ways to treat vertigo is by getting physical therapy. For example, physical therapists can tell you all about balance and how to improve it.

They can also:

  • Give you a specific evaluation for vestibular and balance assessments
  • Develop personalized goals for your treatment
  • Provide therapy intervention
  • Use gaze stabilization if indicated—these are eye-movement exercises that are used for people reporting visual issues, just as struggling to identify items when moving
  • Show clients the Epley’s maneuver, if needed—often, BPPV patients find success in doing the Epley maneuver and especially in cases involving specific head movements that can trigger vertigo
  • Provide balance-training programs
  • Create a strengthening program
  • Instruct clients on home exercises

Don’t continue to suffer from vertigo. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab at 570-208-2787.