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Dizziness accounts for nearly 5% of all primary care clinic visits. Dizziness, also called vertigo, is one of the most common health problems in adults. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 40 percent of people in the United States experience feeling dizzy at least once during their lifetime. Prevalence is slightly higher in women and increases with age. Vertigo is a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. When you have vertigo that is severe, you may feel very nauseated or vomit, you may have trouble walking or standing, and may lose your balance and fall. Secondary symptoms include decreased strength, loss of range of motion (most notably in the shoulder and neck), and increased muscular tension leading to muscle fatigue and headaches.


Physical therapy can be an alternative treatment from medication that can be effective in decreasing or eliminating symptoms associated with these inner ear deficits. According to the NIH, 30-50% of dizziness complaints have an inner ear component as the driving factor of that dizziness. For this 30-50% of people with the complaint of dizziness, physical therapy can be a successful treatment. Vestibular therapy (referring to the inner ear) is an exercise based program for reducing the symptoms of disequilibrium and dizziness associated with vestibular pathology. After a thorough examination, the Physical Therapist can identify if there is a vestibular component to your dizziness and treat accordingly. A specific program is developed for each patient with goals to decrease dizziness and visual symptoms, increase balance and walking functions, and increase general activity levels. The exercises and manual techniques that can be utilized may vary depending on the type of inner ear dysfunction. A recent review (Hillier, 2007) of 21 clinical trials found that vestibular rehabilitation resulted in significant improvements in patients with unilateral vestibular dysfunction. Progressive Physical Therapy offers vestibular treatment for patients experiencing dizziness due to inner ear pathology. If you are currently experiencing dizziness, consult with your primary care physician to discuss if Physical Therapy at Progressive Physical Therapy can be an effective treatment for your dizziness. Call 301-729-3485 to schedule an appointment or visit us on the web at


Article submitted by Richard Malloy, PT, staff Physical Therapist at Progressive Physical Therapy. 

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