Vertigo and Physical Therapy: "I feel like I am spinning on a merry-go-round"

A photo of Dr. Nekita Sullivan, owner of Yoga Therapy Bar
Dr. Nekita Sullivan
March 1, 2024
Vertigo and Physical Therapy: "I feel like I am spinning on a merry-go-round"

Vertigo and Physical Therapy: "I feel like I am spinning on a merry-go-round"

Vertigo is a type of dizziness characterized by a sensation of spinning like you are on a merry-go-round. It is often coupled with unsteadiness or imbalance and can lead to falls. It is a symptom rather than a specific medical condition and can result from other medical issues. Vertigo is typically associated with problems in the inner ear or the vestibular system, which plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and equilibrium.

There are two primary types of vertigo:

  1. Peripheral Vertigo: This type of vertigo is often related to issues within the inner ear, particularly the vestibular labyrinth. Conditions such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, and Meniere's disease can cause peripheral vertigo.
  2. Central Vertigo: Central vertigo is associated with disorders or dysfunction in the central nervous system, particularly the brainstem or cerebellum. Examples include migraines, tumors, or neurological disorders.

Common symptoms of vertigo may include:

  • Spinning or rotating sensation.
  • Feeling lightheaded or woozy.
  • Unsteadiness or imbalance.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus).

The most common cause of peripheral vertigo is BPPV, which occurs when tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and interfere with the normal function of the vestibular system. This can lead to brief episodes of intense vertigo triggered by changes in head position.

Central vertigo, on the other hand, is often associated with more serious underlying conditions and may be accompanied by additional neurological symptoms.

If you experience persistent or recurrent vertigo, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation. The underlying cause of vertigo can vary, and appropriate treatment depends on identifying and addressing the specific issue. Treatment may include medications, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, or, in some cases, surgical interventions. Here are some common physical therapy approaches for vertigo:

1.    Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers (CRM): This technique is often used for treating BPPV, a condition where tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and cause vertigo. Specific maneuvers, such as the Epley maneuver or the Semont maneuver, are designed to move these crystals to a different part of the inner ear where they may not trigger vertigo.

2.    Balance Training Exercises: Physical therapists may prescribe exercises to improve overall balance and stability. These exercises can include activities that challenge the vestibular system, such as walking on uneven surfaces, standing on one leg, or performing specific eye and head movements.

3.    Gaze Stabilization Exercises: These exercises help train the eyes to stay focused on a target even when the head is moving. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing vertigo due to vestibular dysfunction.

4.    Habituation Exercises: Habituation involves repeated exposure to movements that provoke vertigo in a controlled and gradual manner. Over time, this can help reduce the intensity and frequency of vertigo symptoms.

5.    Postural and Alignment Exercises: Correcting posture and body alignment can contribute to improved balance and reduce vertigo symptoms. Therapists may work on strengthening specific muscles to support better posture.

6.    Education and Home Exercises: Physical therapists often provide education on strategies to manage and prevent vertigo episodes at home. This may include exercises, positioning maneuvers, and lifestyle modifications.

It's important to note that the specific approach to physical therapy will depend on the underlying cause of vertigo. Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or an otolaryngologist (ENT), is essential to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. If you're experiencing vertigo, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.

Dr. Nekita Sullivan is a Doctor of Physical Therapy that treats positional vertigo. She has 20 plus years of experience. Yoga Therapy Bar is proud to offer services in downtown Clemson virtually, and off-site to Upstate residents. Physical Therapy services are 1 hour in duration one-on-one.  Pricing options include a flat fee for one treatment or a package fee for multiple treatments.  No referral is needed.  There are no insurance limitations.  Appointments are available the same week. Email Dr. Nekita Sullivan at for details. You can also check us out on the web at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked In. #physicaltherapyClemson #handtherapyClemson#clemsonphysicaltherapy #clemsonyoga#yogaclemsonsc #Pilatesclemson #yogaphysicaltherapy #physicaltherapyyoga#physicaltherapyclemsonsc #bodyandmind #holistic #vertigo #vestibular#equilibrium #vertigotreatmentclemson #yogatherapybar