ADHD Focus

How to Treat Dizziness: The Benefits of Vestibular Therapy and Nervous System Regulation

July 03, 2024

By Zara Dureno, BA, MOT

 

Introduction

Dizziness is a common and often unsettling symptom that can significantly impact daily life. Whether it feels like spinning, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness, dizziness can be caused by various factors, including issues with the inner ear, neurological conditions, or even anxiety. While the underlying causes can vary, effective treatments are available. Two promising approaches are vestibular therapy and regulating the nervous system.

Understanding Dizziness

Dizziness is a broad term that describes a range of sensations, including vertigo (a spinning sensation), disequilibrium (feeling off-balance), and lightheadedness. It is important to identify the specific type of dizziness you’re experiencing, as this can guide appropriate treatment. Common causes of dizziness include:

  • Vestibular Disorders: Problems with the inner ear, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, and vestibular neuritis.
  • Neurological Issues: Conditions like migraines, multiple sclerosis, or even minor head injuries.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, or other circulatory issues.
  • Anxiety and Stress: Psychological factors can also contribute to feelings of dizziness.

Vestibular Therapy

Vestibular therapy, also known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), is a specialized form of physical therapy aimed at alleviating dizziness and balance disorders. It focuses on retraining the brain and the vestibular system (inner ear balance system) to improve stability and reduce dizziness.

How Vestibular Therapy Works

1. Assessment: A thorough assessment by a vestibular therapist or specialist is the first step. This typically involves evaluating balance, gait, eye movements, and the severity and type of dizziness. At the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic, we have the latest technologies which can help pinpoint the source of your dizziness.

2. Customized Exercises: Based on the assessment, a personalized exercise program is developed. Exercises may include:

  • Gaze Stabilization: Activities that improve control of eye movements, helping the brain to better interpret visual information.
  • Balance Training: Exercises that enhance overall balance and coordination.
  • Habituation Exercises: Repetitive exposure to specific movements or positions that provoke dizziness, helping the brain become less sensitive over time.
  • Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers: Specific techniques, such as the Epley maneuver, to treat BPPV by moving dislodged ear crystals back to their proper position.

3. Gradual Progression: The intensity and complexity of exercises are gradually increased to continually challenge and improve the vestibular system’s function.

Regulating the Nervous System

The nervous system plays a critical role in maintaining balance and processing sensory information. Dysregulation of the nervous system can exacerbate dizziness. Techniques to regulate and calm the nervous system can be highly effective in managing dizziness, particularly when it is linked to stress or anxiety.

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Techniques for Nervous System Regulation

1. Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing techniques can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing dizziness related to anxiety.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices that focus on present-moment awareness can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being, making dizziness less frequent and intense.

3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves systematically tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups to reduce physical tension and calm the nervous system.

4. Biofeedback: This technique uses electronic monitoring to help individuals learn to control physiological functions such as heart rate and muscle tension, promoting relaxation and reducing dizziness. At our clinic, we have biofeedback and neurofeedback available.

5. Yoga and Tai Chi: Both practices combine physical movement, balance training, and mindfulness, making them effective for reducing dizziness and improving overall balance and coordination.

Combining Approaches for Optimal Results

For many individuals, the best results come from combining vestibular therapy with nervous system regulation techniques. This dual approach addresses both the physical and psychological components of dizziness, providing comprehensive relief.

1. Professional Guidance: Working with a vestibular therapist and a mental health professional can provide personalized strategies and support.

2. Consistency: Regular practice of prescribed exercises and relaxation techniques is crucial for sustained improvement.

3. Lifestyle Adjustments: Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity, adequate hydration, and proper nutrition, can support overall well-being and reduce dizziness.

Conclusion

Dizziness can be a challenging and disruptive symptom, but effective treatments are available. Vestibular therapy offers targeted exercises to improve balance and reduce dizziness, while techniques for regulating the nervous system can address underlying stress and anxiety. By understanding and addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of dizziness, individuals can find relief and regain their stability.

If you’re struggling with dizziness, consider consulting with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan. With the right approach, you can improve your quality of life and manage dizziness more effectively. Contact the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic today to talk with one of our dizziness experts!

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