Vestibulo-Ocular Dysfunction – not all dizziness is the same

Published: 29 Aug 2022

Vestibulo-Ocular Dysfunction  – not all dizziness is the same

Ever felt like you have sea legs but haven’t been on a boat recently? This feeling can often be associated with vertigo.   

Vertigo can be a debilitating symptom of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – where the crystals in our inner ear are moved from their normal position, we have written about that before – check out our post here.

However, not all vertigo is caused by BPPV.

What are the other causes of vertigo?

In some instances, vertigo can be caused by cardiac or neurological issues. Your physiotherapist will perform an assessment to identify if your cause of vertigo is amenable to physiotherapy. During this process you may be referred to your General Practitioner (GP) to rule out these other causes of vertigo. 

A thorough assessment can identify another cause of vertigo called vestibulo-ocular dysfunction (VOD). Simply put, VOD refers to poor communication between the main systems which control our balance; our eyes, ears and brain. 

Sometimes poor communication between the balance systems (eyes, ears, brain) can be caused by injury to the inner ear, vision changes and/or neck pain and the resultant restricted movement. 

What can Physiotherapy do about this?

Physiotherapists are the experts in managing physical injuries.  Depending on the underlying cause of the VOD. physiotherapy management for this condition may include various ‘Vestibulo-Ocular exercises’. These exercises aim to rehabilitate the balance control systems.

In conjunction with education, stretches and manual therapy (where applicable), Vestibular-Occular Rehab can significantly reduce vertigo and prevent future flare ups of this debilitating condition.

As usual, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a line!