Vestibular Disorders: Understanding Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

vestibular, dizzy, light headed, vertigo, physiofit, los altos, CAUnderstanding Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular disorders can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, affecting their balance, coordination, and spatial awareness. These disorders arise from various causes and present with a range of symptoms. However, advancements in the field of physical therapy have paved the way for effective treatment options. In this article, we will explore the main causes and symptoms of vestibular disorders, as well as the available treatment options. If you or a loved one are seeking professional help, consider contacting PhysioFit Physical Therapy for expert guidance and care.

Causes of Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular disorders can arise from several underlying causes, including:

Inner Ear Problems:

Issues such as Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, or vestibular neuritis can result in vestibular dysfunction.

Head Trauma:

Concussions, whiplash injuries, or any form of head trauma can damage the vestibular system, leading to balance problems.


As individuals age, the vestibular system may naturally decline, resulting in vestibular disorders.


Certain medications, such as those used to treat seizures, high blood pressure, or depression, can have side effects that affect the vestibular system.

Other Medical Conditions:

Vestibular disorders can be associated with conditions such as migraines, autoimmune disorders, or neurological diseases.

Symptoms of Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular disorders can manifest in various ways. Common symptoms include:

  • Vertigo: A sensation of spinning or dizziness, often triggered by certain head movements or changes in position.
  • Imbalance and Coordination Issues: Feeling unsteady on your feet, difficulty walking straight, or experiencing frequent falls.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Vestibular disorders can cause feelings of nausea or even induce vomiting, particularly during episodes of vertigo.
  • Visual Disturbances: Blurred vision, trouble focusing, or sensitivity to light can accompany vestibular dysfunction.
  • Tinnitus: A persistent ringing or buzzing sound in the ears may occur due to inner ear problems.
Other Signs & Symptoms:
  • Swelling of part or all of the arm or leg, including fingers or toes.
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness.
  • Restricted range of motion.
  • Recurring infections.
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)

Treatment Options for Vestibular Disorders

The treatment of vestibular disorders focuses on alleviating symptoms and improving function. Some common treatment options include:

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT):

VRT is a specialized form of physical therapy that includes exercises and maneuvers to help train the brain to compensate for vestibular deficits, reduce symptoms, and improve balance.


Depending on the underlying cause of the disorder, medications such as anti-nausea drugs, vestibular suppressants, or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms.

Canalith Repositioning Procedures:

This technique, commonly used for BPPV, involves a series of head movements designed to reposition displaced crystals in the inner ear and alleviate vertigo.

Lifestyle Modifications:

Lifestyle changes, including dietary adjustments, stress management techniques, and adequate sleep, can help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with vestibular disorders, seeking professional help is crucial. PhysioFit Physical Therapy specializes in vestibular rehabilitation and offers expert care tailored to individual needs. Their skilled team of therapists can develop personalized treatment plans to address vestibular symptoms and enhance your overall well-being.

Vestibular disorders can significantly impact an individual’s daily life, but with appropriate treatment, symptoms can be managed, and quality of life can be improved.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward managing your vestibular disorder effectively.

You can learn more about how we treat Vestibular symptoms on our Vestibular webpage as well. 

kim gladfelter physiofit 1ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness

Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.

Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.

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