ZocdocAnswersDo vestibular exercises work?

Question

Do vestibular exercises work?

My young son has a lot of trouble with balance and dizziness. One of our doctors recommended 'vestibular exercises', which I was skeptical of. So is there proof that the 'exercises' work? I don't want to waste time or money on this stuff unless there's proof.

Answer

Vestibular exercises are an excellent treatment for benign paroxysmal (or positional) vertigo (BPV). If this is the diagnosis he has, there is sufficient proof in the medical literature that this mode of treatment works. BPV is caused by a small stone called an otolith in the inner ear that is out of place. This stone's normal job is to tell the body what position it is in. When these otoliths get out of place (for whatever reason), they need knocked back where they are supposed to be. That is the idea behind vestibular exercises. They are very often prescribed because BPV is the most common type of vertigo diagnosed in children. Other cause of vertigo in kids such as vestibular neuritis, severe middle ear infections that go untreated, and brain tumors will not be treatable with vestibular exercises. Remember that in order for the diagnosis of benign paroxysmal vertigo to be given, the physician diagnosing it must have a very low suspicion that other causes of dizziness and vertigo are present. For example if he develops other symptoms such as bad headaches, or if his symptoms do not get better, then head imaging should be considered. Good luck, I hope he feels better.

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