What is the vestibular system?

I frequently get asked about dizziness and vertigo. This is a common condition. In physical therapy we treat one specific subset of dizziness – vestibular-related dizziness. I think of the vestibular system as this group of organs within the inner ear (the part you can’t see, even with an otoscope). They work as the body’s internal accelerometer. Within this system are trackers for angular and linear acceleration. It is the reason that we can tell when a car is speeding up or slowing down even if our eyes are closed. It is literally how we can tell which way is up when we are standing on a hill. Dysfunction of this system can range from mild to severe and annoying to debilitating. It can happen with/following other injuries/illness or completely without known cause. Dizziness is extremely common and the vestibular system is not the most frequent cause. Therefore I recommend if you are dizzy, start with talking to your primary care provider. If they suspect the vestibular system is the cause, call us for an evaluation!