Vestibular Dysfunction

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.

Vestibular Disorders are the results of disease or injuries damaging these processing areas, and can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons.

We work with a wide variety of Vestibular Disorders; if you don’t see your condition listed don’t lose hope. Contact us to talk through your condition and symptoms with our scheduling administrator..


TYPES OF VESTIBULAR DISORDERS WE SEE


Functional and psychiatric disorders that cause vestibular symptoms (i.e., vertigo, unsteadiness, and dizziness) are common. They are more common than many well-known structural vestibular disorders. The pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying functional and psychiatric causes of vestibular symptoms are better understood than many people realize. Your personalized recovery plans may include patient education, vestibular rehabilitation, cognitive and behavioral therapies.

SYMPTOMS: Chronic Dizziness.


Vertigo is a sensation of spinning dizziness. It is not, as many people maintain, a fear of heights. It is often associated with looking down from a great height but can refer to any temporary or ongoing spells of dizziness caused by problems in the inner ear or brain. Vertigo is commonly caused by a problem with the way balance works in the inner ear, although it can also be caused by problems in certain parts of the brain. Causes of vertigo may include: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – where specific head movements trigger vertigo. Migraines – severe headaches.

SYMPTOMS: temporary or ongoing spells of dizziness, migraines, severe headaches.


Persistent postural perceptual dizziness (PPPD) is a chronic functional disorder of the nervous system, characterized by non-spinning vertigo and perceived unsteadiness. PPPD is precipitated by episodes of vertigo or unsteadiness of vestibular, neurological or psychiatric origin. The pathophysiologic processes underlying PPPD are not fully known. Emerging research suggests that it may arise from functional changes in postural control mechanisms, multi-sensory information processing, or cortical integration of spatial orientation and threat assessment. Thus, PPPD is classified as a chronic functional vestibular disorder.

SYMPTOMS: Persistent sensations of rocking or swaying unsteadiness or dizziness without vertigo lasting three months or more; most patients have daily symptoms.


Dizziness can come from many sources. Therefore, one of the goals of your Diagnostic Assessment [thefnc.com/diagnostic-assessment] is to start to decipher the causes of your dizziness. One of the distinctions that may need to be made is if the dizziness you’re experiencing is coming from the peripheral vestibular system (the labyrinth of the inner ear, and the pathways/nerves connecting to the brainstem) or the central vestibular system (the brain and brainstem). Being able to find the vestibular system involved is key in helping your doctors design your Personalized Neuro-Recovery Program thefnc.com/recovery-program].

SYMPTOMS: Unfortunately, not all people present with a clearly defined central or peripheral cause of their symptoms. While some people will have a dominant group of symptoms that will be more closely tied to peripheral or central origin, there will be those who have a full mix of the two groups.


Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it’s rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls.

SYMPTOMS: Usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head. BPPV might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.


Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS) is a movement disorder, occurring predominantly in women, is most often induced by passive transport on water or in the air (classic MdDS), or can occur spontaneously. MdDS likely originates in the vestibular system and is unfamiliar to many physicians. Your team of Doctors

at The FNC are familiar with MdDS and have a history of working with patients with this condition.

SYMPTOMS: Rocking sensation. Difficulty concentrating. Swaying. Bouncing/Shimmering Vision. Rolling sensation. Sensitivity to light or sound. Lurching. Nausea.


A vestibular migraine is a nervous system problem that causes repeated dizziness (or vertigo) in people who have a history of migraine symptoms. Unlike traditional migraines, you may not always have a headache. There are many names for this type of problem.

SYMPTOMS: feeling imbalanced. Motion sickness caused by moving your head. Dizziness from looking at moving objects such as cars or people walking. Lightheadedness. Feeling like you’re rocking on a boat. Nausea and vomiting as a result of the other symptoms.


Cervical vertigo, or cervicogenic dizziness, is a neck-related sensation in which a person feels like either they’re spinning or the world around them is spinning. Poor neck posture, neck disorders, or trauma to the cervical spine causes this condition. Cervicogenic dizziness will usually resolve with rehabilitation of the neck problem but may require vestibular rehabilitation for complete resolution of symptoms.

SYMPTOMS: Dizziness related to neck movement or turning the head. A sensation of spinning. Ear pain and tinnitus, or ear ringing. Visual disturbances while shaking the head. Nausea and vomiting. Neck Pain and dizziness.

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