• Vertigo / Dizziness

Vestibular Physiotherapy and Rehab in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge

Vertigo and Dizziness are some of the most common complaints seen by Medical Doctors. Vertigo is the sensation of the world spinning around; dizziness is the sensation of being off-balance and “lightheaded”. While some reasons for such symptoms certainly require medical treatment, some common conditions can greatly benefit from physiotherapy intervention.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) results from calcium crystals (otoconia) displacement from their usual location in the vestibular system. These crystals migrate into one or more semi-circular inner ear canals where they are not supposed to be. When the head moves into a certain position, the crystals move and trigger nerves in the semi-circular canal – this can cause the sensation of vertigo, nausea and involuntary eye movements (nystagmus). Patients will complain of vertigo being provoked by looking up or down, lying down too quickly and especially turning over in bed. Vertigo may be extreme but usually goes away in less than 60 seconds.

Physiotherapist assessment of BPPV will include history taking and screening questions to confirm the diagnosis and rule out a different neurological lesion. The Physiotherapist will then perform Dix-Hallpike and Head Roll tests to identify the involved semi circular canals. Based on the findings, the physiotherapist will perform a manoeuvre to reposition the crystals in the proper place (the most common is Epley manoeuvre). The treatment is pain-free and typically takes about 10 minutes. This treatment has a reported success rate of between 80% -94% with one treatment.

Vestibular rehabilitation focuses on reduction of symptoms of peripheral vestibular dysfunction such as dizziness, gaze disturbances and balance impairments. Chronic vestibular lesions can occur due to number of conditions including Vestibular Neuritis, Meniere’s disease and degeneration. The Physiotherapist will design and monitor a special exercise program to reduce symptoms associated with vestibular dysfunction. The exercises will include gaze stabilization exercises, habituation exercises (motion sensitivity reduction), static and dynamic balance exercises, and functional training. The treatment is available in all our clinics, also serving Burnaby, Port Moody and Pitt Meadows.

*Please be aware that you may not be able to drive after your initial treatment*


What is the most common type of vertigo?

The most common type of vertigo is BPPV; it is characterized by short-lasting spells of acute vertigo, which leaves the patient dizzy,nauseated and generally not well for most of the day. The most characteristic sign of BPPV is that vertigo brought up by positional change such as laying down or turning in bed.

How vertigo / BPPV can be diagnosed?

Skillful Vestibular Physiotherapist can diagnose it fairly easily by taking accurate history and performing few clinical tests. Visits to family doctor, specialists or emergency rarely needed and often expose patients to unnecessary tests such as x-rays or CT scans.

What is the treatment for BPPV and how effective is it?

Most common treatment for BPPV is an Eppley Maneuver, painless manual therapy technique(some vertigo will happen during the maneuver). It is extremely effective, with success rates in the literature as high as 95%!! It must be noted that there are several variants of BPPV that require different treatments, usually with similar success rates. The key to successful treatment and full remission of vertigo is an accurate diagnosis .

Are there any pre-treatment recommendations?

Make sure you have somebody to drive you to treatment. Some may benefit from taking anti-nausea medications before treatment(consult your doctor if you have very strong nausea or vomiting).

Are there any post-treatment recommendations?

Generally, it is advisable not to make fast movements with the head and to not lie down on the involved side. Sleeping in a more upright position can also be beneficial. Soft Neck Collar may be applied for two days to avoid head movements; however, we rarely use this approach.

Does treatment always cure vertigo?

No. Although success rates are very high, there are more resilient variants of BPPV(rare) that require more treatments. Occasionally, there is also a recurrence of BPPV. As with any medical condition, if there is no improvement after appropriate treatment a further medical investigation may be needed.

Coast Therapy is an award-winning provider of Massage Therapy & Physiotherapy services to Port Coquitlam, East Vancouver, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam residents for over 16 years.

We offer extensive experience in manual therapy and active care for complex sport & injury rehabilitation, prenatal & post-partum care, medical conditions, chronic pain, and general wellness concerns. Our therapists are experts in helping you achieve long-lasting pain relief and functional improvement.