Massage Therapy for Vertigo

Authors:
BRIANNA CLARK
BRYNNLEY HOFFMAN

What is Vertigo?

In this post I want to talk about massage therapy for vertigo sufferers and the underlying cause of vertigo that may be at large if a medical diagnosis or cause cannot be concluded. I’ve had several clients come in with severe vertigo symptoms; dizziness to the point of vomiting, nausea, loss of balance, headache, waking in the night to the room spinning and ringing in the ears. Talk about miserable! Often times the onset of vertigo is sudden with no obvious explanation.

Vertigo can have some pretty severe symptoms, and the cause can come from many different diagnoses. Often times it can be hard to diagnose what is causing vertigo symptoms, but here are some commonly acknowledged causes of vertigo.

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) occurs when tiny calcium particles clump up in canals of the inner ear. The inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity to help you keep your balance. BPPV can occur for no known reason and may be associated with age.
  • Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder caused by a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears and hearing loss.
  • Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis is an inner ear problem usually related to a viral infection. The infection causes inflammation in the inner ear around nerves that are important for helping the body sense balance.

Symptoms of or related to Vertigo can make daily life extremely difficult. Symptoms range from chronic headaches and light sensitivity, to loss of balance and equilibrium and loads of nausea and dizziness! Talk about miserable! Often times the onset of vertigo is sudden with no obvious explanation.

Doctors will obviously look for these pathologies first. But what happens if these tests come back negative? Or in many cases, what if they were given a diagnosis although there was no obvious cause or explanation. Well … hopefully they will dive deeper and look at a possible side effect of a medication you are on or if there is a possibility you have a brain tumor or have had a stroke. And if still none of these apply, what do you do then?

A problem lies in the fact that doctors are trained in a very non-multidisciplinary way to “search and prescribe”. Or in other words, search for symptoms, diagnose and prescribe medication. If they cannot find a way to diagnose a patient, they either start experimenting with meds or refer to a specialist. Well how can you get anywhere seeing say, an ENT or neurologist when there isn’t something there they can treat?! They may not recognize that the patient is going through a catastrophic time in their life when the symptoms first presented.

It’s a tough situation to be in, especially when faced with such agonizing symptoms that affect daily life. It just goes to show that a more holistic approach could be beneficial in our health care system.

In the case of one of my clients, his doctors started him on vestibular rehabilitation. This is a type of physical therapy aimed at helping strengthen the vestibular system to stabilize balance. The vestibular system sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity.

But did you know that symptoms of vertigo can also be caused or exacerbated by ANXIETY!? Yes, stress and anxiety can be to blame. It may sound too simple an explanation but when circumstances in life push a person to their limits, the physical body is capable of creating many dis-eases to cope with what is going on in the mind. There is no separation between mind and body. And my client reports having more vertigo symptoms during times of high stress in his life.

Three Cheers For Alternative and Holistic Therapies!!!

Alternative therapies can be a great way to seek some extra help for managing chronic or recurring vertigo and can greatly complement whatever work you are already doing to treat a condition with your doctor or health care professional!

What Alternative Therapies can Help?

“I’ve had several clients come in with severe vertigo symptoms; dizziness to the point of vomiting, nausea, loss of balance, headache, waking in the night to the room spinning and ringing in the ears.”
TMJ issues and tight jaw muscles can also contribute to form very similar symptoms to vertigo and a licensed massage therapist can work with you at your comfort to work out any knots or tension in your jaw, neck, and head that may be contributing to your condition!

Massage therapy can be used as part of a multi-pronged treatment plan to treat vertigo. It can be used as a method of grounding, literally and theoretically when the world is spinning around you. To help manage anxiety or underlying causes. To help ease headaches and tension created from vertigo, and to work out any knots or tension gathered from the condition you’re dealing with.

Massage Therapy for Vertigo

If diagnosed with vertigo caused by BPPV a trained and practiced massage therapist can use the Epley Maneuver to help with the symptoms of vertigo. Here is a video to understand the benefit and procedure of the Epley maneuver. You should find out before you make an appointment if your therapist is familiar with the epley maneuver and is able to perform it for you. Epley Maneuver to Treat BPPV Vertigo.

If your vertigo is caused by something else, perhaps by stress, regular massage treatments can help reduce stress and muscle tension that will aggravate or contribute to your vertigo symptoms.

 

Craniosacral Therapy for Vertigo

Craniosacral therapies are also a great way to treat and alleviate some of the symptoms of vertigo. By incorporating light touch and gentle repositioning of the skull and spinal column and realigning the natural rhythm of the central nervous system.

Acupuncture for Vertigo

“In Traditional Chinese Medicine, vertigo and dizziness are due to symptom-complexes of root deficiency and branch excess. There are a variety of etiological factors that can cause the condition. Emotional depression or anger can damage liver yin and result in the rise of liver yang or wind. Extended illness, stress, anxiety, over-pensiveness, or weak heart and spleen can cause deficiency of qi and blood.”

A licensed acupuncturist can assess the body and where imbalances in energy (qi) are found. They use needling to encourage the body’s energy to balance itself therefore reducing symptoms of illness and disease.

Acupressure for Vertigo

Acupressure is another Asian modality focused on points along the body’s energy  meridians. It is basically the same concept as acupuncture whereby pressure is used instead of needles. There are points in acupressure that seek to treat and ease the symptoms of vertigo specifically! It’s definitely worth looking into and some Licensed Massage Therapists are also trained in acupressure!

I have seen extraordinary results with some of my clients who have various types of vertigo. They are utilizing massage therapy as part of their multi-pronged treatment plan. Based off of my experience, I would recommend weekly massage treatments in conjunction with your other therapies. I have noticed that most vertigo patients improve with regular massage. Keep in mind, massage isn’t a permanent or one-time fix all. It should be part of an ongoing treatment plan.

I am happy to have had the experience of working with vertigo patients and to witness the impact massage can have in relieving symptoms.

 

Happy healing!

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