Simple treatment for vertigo - Philadelphia News

October 10, 2008 11:16:41 AM PDT
Dizziness is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor. Many times it's caused by what's called 'positional vertigo.' It's a common problem with an easy solution, but experts say too few people know about the easy fix.

Marty Clair said, "I just woke up one morning and as I stepped out of bed the whole room went around in circles." He's describing positional vertigo. It's a condition that affects thousands of people every day, especially senior citizens and sometimes athletes.

Physical therapist Margaret Fitzpatrick of Willow Grove Physical Therapy said the temporary sense of spinning is caused when particles that belong in one part of the inner ear canal fall into another, affecting balance.

Positional vertigo is diagnosed using the Hallpike test where patients are laid down while a doctor or physical therapist watches their eyes. "We would be able to see his eyes rotating up and to the right typically if it's the right side causing it," Fitzpatrick explained.

If they do have positional vertigo, many times patients are treated with medication for the dizziness, but Fitzpatrick says that only masks symptoms.

But she said a simple, two-minute maneuver called canalith re-positioning maneuver can easily fix the problem. A patient's head is turned in a special way by the certified therapist to move the displaced particles back where they belong. "It's like they're stuck in the bottom of a horseshoe and you have to turn the horseshoe to dump the particles out," Fitzpatrick said.

Research shows after one to three sessions, it's 90-percent effective.

Clair said, "Low and behold, in one to two days, it was gone, completely gone."

Fitzpatrick said in most cases, the vertigo does not return but patients are also given exercises for home just in case. Still, at first, vestibular therapy should be done only by a licensed and certified physical therapist.

For Willow Grove Physical Therapy, click here

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