Is Vertigo Making Your Head Spin?

Not quite, but vertigo is a common condition that can certainly make it feel like the room is spinning! The feeling of dizziness can take many forms, but if the room feels like it is moving around you - unless you are on a carnival ride - this is often a case of Vertigo, which represents a problem in one of our 3 balance centres: Our sense of touch, our vision, and (believe it or not) our ears!

What is Vertigo - Causes and Treatments explained

What is Vertigo? Causes and treatments explained

Causes of Vertigo

There are two usual culprits for vertigo. The first is called BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), and we have the ears to blame for this. Each ear contains an organ that detects how the head moves in space. These organs contain fluid and crystals, though sometimes these crystals can be dislodged inside one ear. This may be caused by head impact, similar to what causes a concussion, or even plain bad luck. Unfortunately, this causes these balance organs to send mixed signals to the brain, which leaves us feeling like the room is spinning! The other common cause is an inflammation of the nerve that connects each of these organs to the brain, which is known as Vestibular Neuritis. In this case, the organs responsible for balance work just fine, but the communication to the brain on one or both sides is disrupted. This may be the result of a rogue viral infection, such as the common cold, pressure changes when scuba diving, or an unknown cause. The main difference that, rather than making you feel like the room is spinning whenever you move your head, this spinning sensation occurs even when sitting still and does not change.

Vertigo Treatments

Thankfully, the treatment for most causes of vertigo is straightforward! In fact, the BPPV discussed above can usually be treated with just 1 to 3 treatments. After diagnosing the type of vertigo, your Physiotherapist will move your head into different positions to guide the crystal back to where it is supposed to rest in the inner ear. If nerve inflammation is determined to be the cause, your Physiotherapist will prescribe a series of exercises to improve the communication from the balance organs in the ear to the brain. These exercises improve the coordination of our eye movements and the neck, reduce the amount of the mixed signals, and adapt to your “new normal” and reduce your dizziness symptoms. To ensure you receive the best possible care, your Physiotherapist will ensure that the cause of your symptoms will respond to treatment, and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Book an appointment with a Physiotherapist at Panther Sports Medicine Centre near you today!

Electromodalities - What’s all the Buzz about?

Physiotherapists often use different machines to assist in your treatment. This can take the form of spinal traction, therapeutic ultrasound, among others. But what about the ones that “zap” you, that give you a “buzzing” feeling? What are these machines, and how do they work?


TENS (aka Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a commonly used modality in many Physiotherapy clinics. The machine itself is not much larger than a deck of cards with two wires, each attached to a sticky electrode pad. Gentle electrical signals travel through the skin and muscles from one of these pads to another in a specific pattern to help alleviate pain. There are a variety of settings this machine uses, but usually, the strong sensation of buzzing is the desired target. The result is activating the nerves that are responsible for our sensation of touch,
which have a louder voice in the brain than the nerves that sense pain - essentially yelling overtop! Your Physiotherapist will assess whether IFC is appropriate for you during your clinic visit.


IFC (aka Interferential Current) is like a sibling to TENS. The machine is much larger and uses 4 electrode pads. These pads may operate as two independent pairs, or as a team of four. In principle, it works in much the same way as TENS, though it is often much more comfortable and may work over a larger area since there are more pads to reduce your pain. When the current from the four electrodes cross, the effect is intensified and can reach deeper into the body. Your Physiotherapist will assess whether IFC is appropriate for you during your clinic visit.

Muscle Stimulation

Unlike TENS and IFC, the goal of muscle stimulation (aka Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation, or NMES) is not to reduce pain, but to enhance how well a muscle is working. Often after many injuries or surgeries (such as ACL reconstruction) will result in disrupted communication between certain muscle groups and the brain. The stimulation from the NMES machine will enhance (or even result in) the function of these muscles, allowing your strengthening exercises to be even more effective! The machine itself is often the exact same as the TENS, just using a different setting. The two electrode pads are placed in specific positions, depending on one which muscle is the focus of treatment. Your therapist will assess whether muscle stimulation is appropriate for you at various stages of your recovery, and will adjust the machine to help you achieve your goals.

Book an appointment with a Physiotherapist at Panther Sports Medicine Centre near you today!

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Why Choose Panther Sports Medicine

Panther Sports Medicine has been serving Calgary for over 30 years!  We offer comprehensive physiotherapy and professional rehabilitation services. Our staff is highly trained in the latest and most effective treatment options. With a wide variety of services and skills, we will get you back to your normal life as soon as possible.
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Panther Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centres are a network of ten clinics, physiotherapist operated, serving Calgary and surrounding areas. Our team offers a wide range of services including physiotherapy, massage therapy, and sports injury rehabilitation to help our clients reduce pain and recover from injuries. Panther Sports Medicine has been proudly serving our community for over 30 years.
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