Finding Balance: Dizziness and Physical Therapy

| Live Your Life PT

Dizziness is common in people over 20, and it can be a big problem in daily life. Feeling unsteady, lightheaded, or like the room is spinning is alarming and makes daily tasks difficult. The good news is that dizziness often has treatable causes, and your physical therapist can be the perfect person to help!

Understanding Dizziness

Dizziness isn’t a specific problem—it is a symptom that can be caused by many different issues. Feeling dizzy most commonly occurs due to issues with the inner ear, but it can also occur due to vision, joint or muscle issues in the neck, migraines, changes in blood pressure, head injuries, or other neurological problems.1,2

How Physical Therapists Help

To understand dizziness and how a physical therapist can help, you must know a little about how your balance systems work together. Your brain uses information from your inner ears, your vision, and sensory information from your joints, skin, and muscles about their position and movement to keep you balanced and stable.1 Typically, all this information paints the same picture for your brain. If your brain gets conflicting information from inner ear versus your vision and sensory system, this contradictory information can result in feelings of dizziness, unsteadiness, or vertigo.1

Your physical therapist will ask questions about the history of your symptoms and and then test all the systems that help you stay balanced to determine the cause of your dizziness.

Your treatment plan will vary depending on what your physical therapist finds. Some typical interventions include:

  • Exercises: Your physical therapist  may prescribe specific exercises to improve your balance, strength, and range of motion.1 Exercises that help retrain your brain to properly interpret sensory information can include: gaze stabilization exercises, which help your eyes and inner ears work better together; habituation exercises, which help your brain get used to different types of input; and balance training on various surfaces.1
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers (CRM): If your dizziness is caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a specific type of inner ear problem, your therapist may perform maneuvers to reposition tiny crystals within your ear canal, alleviating your vertigo.2,3
  • Education: Your therapist will educate you about the findings of your assessment, how to manage dizziness, and exercises you can perform at home to improve your symptoms. They may also help you modify activities that can cause your dizziness or train you on ways minimize symptom provocation with these activities.

Dizziness does not have to interfere with life! Physical therapists can help reduce dizziness, improve balance, lower the risk of falls, and increase confidence in daily activities. Learn how we can address your dizziness with our in-home physical therapy wellness program, Live Your Life DIZZY FREE! Contact us today for a free consultation!


1Vestibular Rehabilitation. Cleveland Clinic.

2Guide | Physical Therapy Guide to Vertigo. Choose PT. Published August 26, 2021.

3Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Cleveland Clinic.

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