Dizziness when walking, bending or looking up? A physio guide to chronic dizziness

There are many reasons why people may experience dizziness or vertigo with activities such as walking, bending and looking up. These include conditions such as vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, BPPV, Meniere’s and hypofunction (all conditions we can help manage with physiotherapy!)

There are many cases however, where even after the initial underlying issue has resolved – people will STILL experience sensitivity and symptoms with those movements.

WHY? you ask…

When people experience these symptoms for a long enough time – the brain can become extra sensitive to certain motions of the head. This is a PROTECTIVE response where your brain starts to send signals to stop you from doing something – even when there is actually nothing wrong! Your brain is just in an extra sensitive state, trying to protect you from potential harm. But just like an over-protective parent, it is being TOO careful and actually causing more harm than good!

Can physiotherapy help with Chronic Dizziness?

YES. Physiotherapists trained in Vestibular management will perform tests to see what angles or directions of movement are causing the most sensitivity. They will then devise a progression of exercises to gradually expose and de-sensitise your brain to those movements.

This process is called Habituation and it is the reason why people are able to fly around in space, drive F1 cars and go sky diving.

Let’s take astronauts in space for example. These crazy people initially must do gradual exercises in anti-gravity environments to get used to the different positions (upside down, flipping and rotating). For about 2 weeks they experience incredible nausea as they Habituate or get used to these positions. But eventually – they do!

You don’t have to be an astronaut, an F1 driver or a sky diver to get over your chronic dizziness!

Our habituation programs are much more subtle. We will rate the movements which cause your symptoms on a scale (from slightly provocative to extremely provocative). Our physiotherapist will then choose exercises at the lower end of this scale and determine how many reps and sets you can tolerate.

These exercises could involve rolling, bending, squatting or movements of your eyes (following targets etc).

We gradually chip away over a number of days to weeks until you are comfortable with even the most provocative movements.

How to get help with your Chronic Dizziness

Our physiotherapists Jared Reyes and Allan Bourke have additional training in managing Vestibular, Dizziness and Balance issues. You can make a booking online (choose either location, then Vestibular) – or call us today on (02) 4721 5567.


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