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What's the difference between dizziness and vertigo?

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Dizziness is one of the most common reasons why someone will visit the doctor’s office. 70% of people are likely to experience dizziness at some stage in their lives and it is estimated that 15% of the population has dizziness with the prevalence increasing with an increase in age - So what's the difference between dizziness and vertigo?

Difference between dizziness and vertigo

The sensation of dizziness can be described in many ways such as light-headedness, rocking, swaying, on a boat, off balance etc while vertigo is the sensation that either you or the room is spinning.

Dizziness and vertigo can be intermittent (this means they may come and go) or they may be constant. Depending on the cause, different things can aggravate the dizziness. Paying attention to what may aggravate or ease your symptoms will help narrow down an accurate diagnosis.

Common conditions

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

  • Vestibular neuritis

  • Labyrinthitis

Clinical consultation with an osteopath

Dizziness and vertigo conditions require a practitioner to have additional training and experience to diagnose and treat these conditions, therefore ensuring that your practitioner has advanced training and experience in the field of dizziness is important in helping you achieve your results - Dr Jess at Whole Health Osteopathy does not have advanced training in vertigo treatment, however, she can refer you to another appropriate practitioner.

However, Dr Jess is able to consult with you for your dizziness and suspected vertigo and will take a thorough case history to help narrow down what may be the cause of your dizziness.

Some assessments that may be performed include but are not limited to:

  • BPPV assessment

  • Vestibular assessment screening and tests

  • Balance tests

  • Gait assessment

  • Neck and jaw assessment

The osteopathic approach to treatment

Treatment with Dr Jess will depend on the cause of your dizziness or vertigo as different conditions require different treatments. This may, for example, include:

  • Balance exercises

  • Hands-on treatment of the neck, jaw, shoulders and upper back, as required

Treatment with an advanced practitioner may also include:

  • Epley Manoeuvre, Brandt Daroff Manoeuvre or other BPPV manoeuvres

  • Vestibular rehabilitation exercises, such as gaze stabilisation exercises

Expected outcomes

Throughout treatment, you should see a correlation between your exercises and your symptoms. As your exercises improve and progress, your symptoms should also improve.

If you are improving with your exercises but your symptoms do not change, then treatment may need to be altered to better address your condition.

For more information, please visit Osteopathy Australia Website

This blog "What's the difference between dizziness and vertigo?" was written by Whole Health Osteopath Dr. Jessica Sammut. Whole Health Osteopathy was established in 2017 and is located at 855 Plenty Road, South Morang, 3752.

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