Understanding Dizziness and Vertigo: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

by Bogota

Feeling unsteady, like the world is spinning around you, or that you’re about to faint? These sensations might be more than just momentary discomfort—they could be symptoms of conditions that require attention and potential intervention. Two common complaints related to balance and equilibrium are dizziness and vertigo.

The Complexity of Vertigo and Dizziness

Though often used interchangeably, vertigo and dizziness are distinct in their presentation. Vertigo, with its hallmark spinning sensation, often has a more definitive source within the inner ear or vestibular system. Dizziness, broader in its scope, can be a symptom of various conditions, from neurological to cardiovascular.

Impact on Daily Life

It’s not just about the unsettling sensations. Dizziness and vertigo can significantly impact daily activities. Driving, walking, or even simple tasks can become challenging and hazardous. The risk of falls increases, leading to potential injuries, especially in the older population. It’s these severe disruptions that make seeking interventions, like vertigo physiotherapy, vital.

Dizziness: An Overview

Dizziness is a broad term that describes feelings of lightheadedness, unsteadiness, or a floating sensation. It can sometimes be accompanied by nausea or a sensation that one might faint.


Dizziness can arise from a variety of causes, including dehydration, low blood pressure, anemia, anxiety, ear infections, and more. However, when one starts seeking dizziness physiotherapy, it often indicates that the cause might be related to balance and vestibular system issues.

Vertigo: Spinning Out of Control

Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness. It is characterized by a false sensation that either you are spinning, or the world around you is. This spinning sensation can be quite intense and disorienting.


One of the most common causes of vertigo is a vestibular system disorder. A few examples of conditions that can lead to vertigo are BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), Labyrinthitis, and Meniere’s disease.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Beyond the feelings of unsteadiness or spinning, individuals might also experience 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hearing loss

It’s essential to be attentive to these symptoms as they can provide crucial clues for diagnosis and can dictate whether interventions like vertigo and dizziness physiotherapy Edmonton  are needed.

Diagnosis: Pinpointing the Problem

Arriving at an accurate diagnosis is vital for effective treatment. Diagnostics might include:

  • Physical Examination: Evaluating eye movements, particularly during a vertigo episode, can offer insights.
  • Hearing Tests: Since the inner ear is closely tied to balance, a hearing test can sometimes aid diagnosis.
  • Imaging: MRIs or CT scans can help rule out other causes like tumours or structural abnormalities.
  • Vestibular Testing: These tests evaluate the functioning of the inner ear and can be crucial in diagnosing conditions that might benefit from vestibular physiotherapy Edmonton services.

Finding Relief with Vestibular Physiotherapy

Vestibular disorders are a leading cause of dizziness and vertigo. Thankfully, vestibular physiotherapy offers a promising approach to managing and often alleviating these distressing symptoms. Patients undergo a comprehensive assessment followed by tailored interventions. Techniques might include:

Tailored Rehabilitation Exercises

The backbone of vestibular physiotherapy is a series of exercises customized for each individual. These exercises aim to:

  • Habituation: Designed for those who experience dizziness from visual stimuli or with specific movements. The goal is to reduce the dizziness through repeated exposure.
  • Gaze Stabilization: Helps patients improve their ability to focus and vision on a stationary object while the head is moving.
  • Balance Training: Enhances steadiness and reduces the risk of falls, which is particularly essential for those experiencing dizziness or balance problems.

Canalith Repositioning Procedures

For those suffering from BPPV, a common form of vertigo, this manual procedure is a game-changer. It involves specific head movements to move the calcium crystals out of the semicircular canal, where they don’t belong, effectively treating the vertigo at its source.

Patient Education

Knowledge is empowering. Educating patients about their conditions, triggers, and self-management techniques can significantly improve outcomes. Understanding the nuances of the condition and knowing when and how to perform certain exercises or maneuvers at home can be instrumental in ongoing management.

Integrative Approaches

Often, vestibular physiotherapy may be combined with other therapeutic modalities such as acupuncture, massage, or even cognitive-behavioural therapy, especially if dizziness has led to anxiety or if there’s a psychogenic component to the balance issue.

Navigating the Path to Balance and Stability

The often-disorienting experiences of vertigo and dizziness, while challenging, are not insurmountable. With a clear understanding of their root causes and symptoms, individuals can take proactive steps toward diagnosis and subsequent management. 

Vestibular physiotherapy at institutions like In Step Physical Therapy Edmonton goes the extra mile to turn it into a  therapeutic journey. It offers not only alleviation of symptoms but a genuine chance at restoring balance and normalcy to everyday life. By harnessing the expertise of professionals in the field and engaging with targeted interventions, patients can confidently reclaim their stability and move forward with renewed confidence and vigour.

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