Dizziness and balance disorders - how we can help

12 September 2017

Fiona Hever, Vestibular Specialist Physiotherapist at Spire Hartswood Hospital, Brentwood, discusses dizziness and balance disorders

Why you might need physiotherapy

You are not alone in your struggle with dizziness, vertigo, balance problems, vision problems, brain fog, and other debilitating symptoms of a vestibular disorder. 40% of people aged over 40 experience symptoms of dizziness and/or imbalance at some time. But it can affect people of all ages. At Spire Hartswood Hospital we understand these symptoms may significantly affect your day-to-day life.

Vestibular rehabilitation is the speciality concerned with the assessment and rehabilitation of people with dizziness and balance disorders. Vertigo and dizziness are not a diagnosis of their own, but a sign of something going on in your body that isn’t quite right.

Although largely underdiagnosed and undertreated, in many cases, physiotherapy can relieve balance problems – often in a surprisingly short time. There isn’t always a cure, as each patient will have to adapt to lifestyle changes, for instance stress management, exercise and possibly diet, to keep their symptoms at bay.

Assessment and treatment

Vestibular problems are notoriously difficult to diagnose; sometimes it is a process of elimination and your symptoms may be a result of more than one disorder. Therefore, it can be common for a patient to consult four or more people over months or even years before they find a solution.

How we can help at Spire Hartswood Hospital.  You can attend our Specialist Vestibular Service via a consultant, GP, or self-referral and through insurance or self-funding options.

We aim to provide high standards of care and attention to treat your individual needs helping you to restore your confidence and return you to your daily activities. We pride ourselves on treating our patients, not just their symptoms and offer assessment and treatment of a wide range of disorders including;

  • The most common cause of vestibular dizziness, BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) where crystals are dislodged into your inner ear causing a spinning sensation with certain head movements. This can usually be treated in 1-2 sessions by using certain manoeuvres to move the ‘crystals’ of your inner ear to the correct area.
  • Migraine, specifically vestibular migraine, is usually the next most common disorder treated and although this does take longer to treat, usually 6-9 months, when combined with; a Consultant Neurologists’ input; specific exercise therapy to get the brain to ‘re-wire itself’ and management, treatment can be very effective in reducing symptoms and allowing your return to normal activities again.
  • Neck pain can also be a cause for headaches. However, these headaches are usually a ‘toothache’ type headache across the back of the head or across the forehead, with or without moderate dizziness. Physiotherapy can help to reduce/eliminate these symptoms.
  • There are many other causes of dizziness which can all be helped with physiotherapy such as:
    • Vestibular neuritis which is usually an onset of dizziness after the flu or infection and causing you to become bed bound for a few days fortunately people do not experience any hearing loss, people do experience vertigo, dizziness, unsteadiness and nausea.
    • Labyrinthitis is often triggered from a common cold or flu virus. As the labyrinth controls hearing and balance, any malfunction can cause the information it sends to your brain to be different from the information sent from your unaffected ear. These conflicting signals can cause vertigo and dizziness. Patients with labyrinthitis have problems hearing out of the affected ear.
    • Meniere’s disease (a rare condition affecting the inner ear) can also cause, episodic hearing, balance and dizziness symptoms and is degenerative.
    • Dizziness post-trauma.

Preparing for treatment

At your first appointment a detailed medical history will be taken followed by a thorough assessment, taking into consideration how irritable your symptoms are. From this assessment we can measure your ‘base’ level and subsequent improvements. You will receive expert advice and treatment that is tailored to your specific needs. With your consent, our physiotherapist can also refer you to a Consultant as we work closely with our Neurologist Consultants and ENT Consultants who can arrange access, if necessary, to our diagnostic facilities at Spire Hartswood including X-ray, MRI, and CT scanning. Your physiotherapist will also liaise with your GP (and consultant) during treatment as required and at discharge.

We ask that you have someone bring you to your first appointment due to the nature of the assessment and treatment possibly causing momentary dizziness. This will be explained to you during your treatment as appropriate.

Cost of treatment

A price for treatment is available on enquiry. Please call for further information or to make a booking on 01277 266780. Email hwphysio@spirehealthcare.com.    

The content of this page is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.                    

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