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Physical Therapy for Vertigo – Information, Exercises, and More

You’re dizzy. 

Maybe the room is spinning. Maybe you feel like you are spinning. You can’t focus and you just want to lie down. 

It’s enough to make you feel miserable.

Vertigo can be extremely difficult to manage and live with. But you don’t have to accept it as a regular part of your life — and you shouldn’t have to. 

Instead, let us help you learn more about the condition and what you can do to cope with and overcome symptoms associated with vertigo. 


Table of Contents

What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is most commonly described as a sensation that makes you feel as though you are spinning in circles, even when sitting still. Vertigo occurs due to underlying issues, which we’ll go into further shortly. 

Vertigo attacks tend to happen suddenly and can last for a few seconds or a few days.

What Causes Vertigo?

Vertigo can leave you feeling dizzy and off-balance. Generally, vertigo comes in two common forms: 

  1. Peripheral vertigo — when there’s an issue with your inner ear.
  2. Central vertigo — when there’s something wrong in the brain. This could include infection, tumors, brain injury, or stroke. 

Additional causes of vertigo may include: 

  • Toxin exposure 
  • Bengin Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Migraines
  • Brain injury or trauma 

Your doctor can help you get to the root of your vertigo symptoms.

Toxin Exposure

Some toxins have a negative effect on the vestibular system.

These substances, like alcohol and some drugs, can cause vertigo.


Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo, or BPPV for short, is one of the most common types of vertigo.

This condition occurs when a sudden change in the position of the head triggers a feeling of spinning or dizziness.

BPPV is usually a milder type of vertigo. Physical therapy treatment is often prescribed.

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a disorder that usually affects one ear and causes symptoms like:

  • Vertigo
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Ears feeling like they are full of water
  • Loss of hearing

This is caused by fluid build-up in the inner ear and mostly affects adults over the age of 40.


There is a condition called vestibular neuritis, better known as labyrinthitis, that can cause vertigo.

Labyrinthitis affects the part of the ear called the labyrinth. This part of your ear tells your brain when you are changing direction or position.

When the labyrinth becomes inflamed from a virus or injury, you can experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Trouble focusing your eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The causes of labyrinthitis are not always clear. The symptoms can be debilitating.


There are several types of migraines, but one, in particular, is known to cause vertigo.

Vestibular migraines can cause a variety of symptoms, including (but not limited to):

  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Poor balance
  • Feeling like you are spinning
  • Challenges using speech/language
  • Sense of disorientation

Most patients experience these symptoms as an aura before the migraine. 

Other types of migraines can also cause vertigo.

Brain Injury or Trauma

Doctors have found that some patients with traumatic brain injury may develop vertigo.

Some causes of brain trauma that may result in vertigo:

  • Damage to the vestibular system
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Concussion
  • Stroke

More studies are being done to determine exactly how these traumas affect the brain. New treatments are also being explored.

Vertigo Symptoms

Most patients with vertigo complain that they feel like they are spinning, or objects around them are moving.

This positional disorientation can be frustrating and make life more difficult.


If you have vertigo, you probably know all about the dizziness that often accompanies the condition.

Vertigo is the most common cause of dizziness. It can be debilitating, frustrating, and even dangerous.

Patients, like you, may experience varying degrees of dizziness, from mild to severe.

Your doctor should help you understand your symptoms and limitations.


When you feel like you are constantly spinning, it can make you feel nauseated. 

Nausea commonly occurs because your sense of balance is off and it confuses your body. 


Vertigo can also induce vomiting in some patients. 

Persistent dizziness can give you motion sickness. 

If you are vomiting because of vertigo, your doctor should monitor your symptoms to ensure you do not become dehydrated.


Headaches can be an unfortunate symptom of vertigo.

As if it’s not bad enough that you are dizzy, now your head hurts, too.

Headaches can be a factor if your ears feel full or you are having trouble focusing your eyes.

Vertigo Treatment

Many people think there is nothing you can do about vertigo, but that’s not true.

When trying to treat vertigo, patients have several options, including: 

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy

Talk with your doctor to discuss which treatment plan — or plans — are best for your specific symptoms. 


There are over-the-counter medications you can take to help with the symptoms of vertigo.

These medicines, including dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine (Bonine), are available at most pharmacies and retailers.

They may be able to help you feel better, especially if you are experiencing feelings of motion sickness, dizziness, or nausea. 


In some cases, surgery is the best treatment option for vertigo.

If you have damage to the vestibular systems or standard treatment is not helping, your doctor may recommend surgery.

There are several different types of surgery for vertigo. The cause of your vertigo will determine which surgery you may need.

Before opting for surgery — as this is generally a “worst case scenario” option — your physician may recommend you try a more holistic approach to overcoming the condition, like physical therapy for vertigo. 

Physical Therapy for Vertigo – Will PT Help?

Treating vertigo with physical therapy is an option most patients don’t realize they have — and it’s one you should consider. 

During physical therapy for vertigo, your Doctor of Physical Therapy may try several treatment options, including: 

  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers
  • Neck stretches
  • Vestibular exercises
  • Balance training; or 
  • Manual therapy

One of the top goals of physical therapy is to strengthen your vestibular system so it sends correct signals to the brain about your head and body motion to improve movement and restore proper function. 

When you use physical therapy for vertigo and balance, you take a whole-body approach to the problem.

Talk to your physician or connect with a physical therapist — like those at In Motion O.C. — to determine if physical therapy is the right treatment option for you. 

Best Vertigo Exercises

You may find that your symptoms are reduced and your balance is improved by practicing several different physical therapy exercises for vertigo. 

Because symptoms of vertigo are dependent on the cause, which exercises work best for your unique circumstances will vary.  

A Doctor of Physical Therapy will work with you to determine the best exercises and treatment plans to help you overcome your symptoms.

But what can you expect? Below, we discuss several different exercises that your Doctor of Physical Therapy may recommend as part of your treatment plan. 


Epley Maneuver

This exercise involves a series of movements being carried out by your physical therapist to relieve symptoms of BPPV. According to research, this exercise is an easy, safe, and effective treatment option. 

It is often also referred to as the particle repositioning maneuver or the canalith repositioning maneuver.

The goal of this physical therapy exercise for vertigo symptoms is to reposition crystals in the inner ear and improve your balance. 


Gaze Stabilization Exercises

Gaze stabilization exercises can help to minimize the dizzying effects of moving your head if you have vertigo.

These exercises may improve your vestibular function. 

Your physical therapist can guide you through these gentle movements that are designed to increase visual focus and reduce motion sickness from vertigo.


Brandt-Daroff Exercises

Conditioning the body to become balanced and comfortable in the position that is causing vertigo is the goal of Brandt-Daroff exercises.

Commonly used to treat BPPV, which usually only affects one ear, the Brandt-Daroff exercises help your body grow accustomed to movement on that side of the head.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Vertigo

Don’t go another day wondering if you’re stuck living like this. You deserve to live comfortably, not as if you’re spinning, instead of the world around you. 

In Motion O.C. — and our team of experienced physical therapists —  is here to help you overcome the condition. 

When you are diagnosed with vertigo, physical therapy, exercises, and other modalities combined can relieve your symptoms. We’re here to help you find the ideal mix based on your unique circumstances. 

As the number one rated physical therapy clinic on Yelp, we are committed to providing our patients with the very best care, guidance, and customer service. 

Contact us today to learn more about how physical therapy exercises for vertigo can help and to get started at our clinic as soon as possible. We’ve treated thousands of patients, and we’re ready to help you find relief, too. 

Our staff can give you the attention and personalized approach you deserve.


The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

In Motion O.C.