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  • Writer's pictureKate

What is a Vestibular Migraine?

Vestibular Migraine: Vestibular migraines may occur in people with a diagnosis of migraine headaches. A vestibular migraine is characterized by episodes of vertigo (a room spinning sensation), imbalance and nausea. Most people assume a migraine must come with a headache, however with a vestibular migraine, headaches may not happen at the same time. A vestibular migraine is also called an “atypical” migraine.

What are the symptoms? Symptoms can last seconds, minutes, or hours and may take days to return to your “normal”.

  • Vertigo

  • Lightheaded or dizziness

  • Rocking or swaying sensations

  • Motion sickness

  • Imbalance and difficulty walking

  • Spatial disorientation, especially with head motion and in or busy, moving environments.

  • Hearing changes, ear pressure, or ringing

Who is at risk for vestibular migraines?

  • More common in women- mostly during their monthly cycle or changes in hormones

  • Ages 30-50

  • People who also have Meniere’s Disease

  • People with a family history of migraines

  • People with anxiety disorders

  • People with a history of motion sickness

Can physical therapy help? Most people with vestibular migraines are often fearful of moving or turning their head due to symptoms of dizziness or unsteadiness. Physical therapists can help you become more comfortable with motion by implementing habituation type exercises to help you build a tolerance to motion. Physical therapists can also help you identify a trigger to your migraines and refer you to other health care practitioners to assist with managing your migraines.

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