Cawthorne Exercises for Vertigo: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Simple exercises can help you regain your balance when you have vertigo. If you have Ménière's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), or another inner ear problem, you may have vertigo off and on.

Do these exercises first thing in the morning and before you go to bed. You might get dizzy when you first start them. If this happens, try to do them for at least 5 minutes. Do a group of exercises at a time, starting at the top of the list. It may take several weeks before you can do all the exercises without feeling dizzy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Exercise 1

While sitting on the side of the bed and holding your head still:

  • Look up as far as you can.
  • Look down as far as you can.
  • Look from side to side as far as you can.
  • Stretch your arm straight out in front of you. Focus on your index finger. Continue to focus on your finger while you bring it to your nose.

Exercise 2

While sitting on the side of the bed:

  • Bring your head as far back as you can.
  • Bring your head forward to touch your chin to your chest.
  • Turn your head from side to side.
  • Do these exercises first with your eyes open. Then try with your eyes closed.

Exercise 3

While sitting on the side of the bed:

  • Shrug your shoulders straight upward, then relax them.
  • Bend over and try to touch the ground with your fingers. Then go back to a sitting position.
  • Toss a small ball from one hand to the other. Throw the ball higher than your eyes so you have to look up.

Exercise 4

While standing (with someone close by if you feel uncomfortable):

  • Repeat Exercise 1.
  • Repeat Exercise 2.
  • Pass a ball between your legs and above your head.
  • Sit down and then stand up. Repeat. Turn around in a circle a different way each time you stand.
  • With someone close by to help you, try the above exercises with your eyes closed.

Exercise 5

In a room that is cleared of obstacles:

  • Walk to a corner of the room, turn to your right, and walk back to the starting point. Now, repeat and turn left.
  • Walk up and down a slope. Now try stairs.
  • While holding on to someone's arm, try these exercises with your eyes closed.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.