Massage Therapy for Vertigo

Brianna Clark
September 28, 2016

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo has various causes and for some, treatment is straightforward. Others may have more trouble getting to the cause. There may be an underlying cause of vertigo that is at large if a medical diagnosis or cause cannot be easily 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 mild to severe symptoms and the cause can come from many different diagnoses. It can at times be challenging 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 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! Often times the onset of vertigo is sudden with no obvious explanation.

Doctors will presumably look for these pathologies first. But what happens if the tests for these causes are negative? Or in many cases, what if you were given a diagnosis without knowing if there is an underlying cause? What is if the treatment that was recommended to you is not working? 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?

picture of a dizzy person experiencing vertigo

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.

There could be an underlying cause experts may not address.

Did you know that symptoms of vertigo can also be caused or exacerbated by ANXIETY!?

Yes, prolonged 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.

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.

Alternative and Holistic Therapies for Vertigo

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!

Massage Therapy for Vertigo

If diagnosed with vertigo caused by BPPV trained and practiced massage therapist can use the Epley Maneuver to help with the symptoms of vertigo. Here is a video explaining 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.

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.


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.

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 on 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. Book a Clinical Massage Therapy treatment at our clinic with any of our highly trained clinical massage therapists and find relief today!

picture of person getting acupressure treatment for vertigo relief

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