Vestibular Physiotherapy Hervey Bay

The vestibular system sits within the inner ear and is responsible for keeping your eyes (gaze) steady during head movement which is vital for balance. Vestibular conditions can be peripheral (such as BPPV – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) or central (such as stroke). Our vestibular rehabilitation physiotherapists in Hervey Bay can assess and treat both peripheral and central conditions.

Symptoms of a vestibular disorders can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Motion sickness
  • Neck complaints
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Ear pressure (sense of fullness)

Common Vestibular Conditions

Benign= not harmful
Paroxysmal= sudden onset
Positional= positionally triggered
Vertigo= sense of self or the world moving.

The inner ear consists of five separate components. The middle two compartments house Otoliths – the inner ear crystals or particles (octonia). The other three components are the semi-circular canals. Their function is to sense head rotation. If the crystals dislodge and enter the semi-circular canals, false head movements are interpreted by the brain.

The inner ear works in conjunction with the eyes keeping them steady during head movement. Nystagmus is an involuntary repetitive eye movement controlled by the inner ear or the brain. The physiotherapist uses several clinical tests to determine a diagnosis to identify which middle ear canal is affected.

As there are three separate canals in the inner ear, each requires a different technique for successful treatment. The Epley manoeuvre is the most common of these and is used to treat the posterior canal.

Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (UVH) occurs when one side of your vestibular system is not functionally optimally.

A combination of imbalance, dizziness and nausea can be experienced.

Can include viral/bacterial infection, toxicity, auto-immune disorder, tumours, trauma, inner ear pathology – such as Meniere’s Disease.

Your physiotherapist can provide a program of vestibular rehabilitation exercises to assist your vestibular system to compensate for this dysfunction. This can include gaze stability exercises, substitution of alternative strategies of inner ear/eye and balance systems, habituation of symptoms, and regaining overall functional balance. Exercise programs are designed to suit your specific needs.

Ménière’s disease (endolymphatic hydrops) is caused by abnormally large amounts of a fluid called endolymph collecting in the inner ear.

Meniere’s Disease can present with an array of symptoms including episodic dizziness. Ear symptoms are often unilateral and include hearing loss, tinnitus and a sense of fullness in the ear.

The treatment of Meniere’s Disease requires medical management. While Vestibular Physiotherapy will not cure the disease, it is important is assisting to maintain adequate balance and a functional lifestyle.

Vestibular migraine is a type of migraine where vestibular symptoms can be experienced. Migraine is the second most common cause of episodic dizziness.

Include – headaches without dizziness and vice versa.

Medical management is required and can include a combination of lifestyle changes, trigger management, prescribed medications, dietary changes, general exercise and physiotherapy. Vestibular physiotherapy and physiotherapy treatment of the neck region can assist in reducing potential migraine triggers. Your physiotherapist will complete an assessment to determine potential triggers before creating an individualised treatment plan specific to your needs.

Our Hervey Bay vestibular physiotherapist, Ayley Smith, is available for appointments.

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