Anytime your doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, or naturopath are investigating your dizziness or vertigo – they are running through a list of differential diagnoses in their head. A list of differentials is simply all the conditions or causes of the symptom (dizziness/vertigo) which may be the root cause.
It is important to understand how and where the symptoms arise – because treatment can vary greatly.
Dizziness vs Vertigo
Dizziness is a general, non-specific term to indicate a sense of disorientation.
Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness – that refers to an unpleasant distortion of gravitational orientation. It’s a mismatch between vestibular, visual and somatosensory systems.
About 30% of the general population complain of vertigo.
Peripheral and Central Causes of Dizziness
Dizziness can arise from various factors – broadly classified as peripheral dizziness or central causes of dizziness. Additionally, there are some other causes which do not quite fall into these two main categories.
In a clinical setting, questions regarding timing (onset, duration and how the dizziness changes) and triggers (actions, movements, or situation) can categorize dizziness as either peripheral or central in nature.
Peripheral Causes of Dizziness
- Benign Paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular neuritis
- Meniere disease
Central Causes of Dizziness
- Vestibular Migraine
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Cerebellopontine angle and posterior fossa meningiomas
Other Causes of Dizziness
- Medication induced.
Why Does This Matter?
Often, when patients suffer from dizziness, they or their health care provider may focus on the most common causative factors, such as BBPV. But, there can be a handful of other causes of dizziness. If you suffer from chronic dizziness, and the conventional approaches do not work, it may be worth being assessed for one of the other causes of dizziness.
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Interested in learning more?
Read on in our series of articles on Dizziness!
About the Author - Sonia Gashgarian
Sonia Gashgarian is a registered physiotherapist who graduated with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Prior to this she completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with Honours from the University of Waterloo. Sonia has completed courses in sports taping and basic kinesio-taping, as well as the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy and Mulligan Concept. She also has her APTEI Acupuncture and Dry Needling Certification.
Sonia uses a variety of treatment techniques to help clients feel better and return to their regular activities as soon as possible. Her individualized treatments may include the following: education, joint mobilizations, exercise prescription, soft tissue release, trigger point release, taping, acupuncture and dry needling, cupping, and Gua Sha.
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