In my continuing education courses for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, I teach a comprehensive, detailed and unique hands-on exam that I have developed to screen for all possible causes of dizziness, vertigo and imbalance – and we include a screen for adrenal fatigue. We screen for adrenal fatigue because it can cause dizziness with standing.

Adrenal fatigue is a controversial, emerging medical term that basically represents an imbalance in the neurological and endocrine body systems. A more accurate descriptive term is “neuro-endocrine imbalance,” but the many providers refer to this state of improper balance in body chemicals and overstimulation of nerve activity as “adrenal fatigue” or “adrenal weakness.”

During my Physical Therapy (PT) CEU courses, the professionals in attendance learn the techniques to assess for this type of imbalance, and they also act as a model patient for their colleagues to practice their new exam skills.

In the Vital Sign lab and Oculomotor lab practice sessions, I often hear people exclaiming: “Does Everyone Have Adrenal Fatigue?”

The majority of my colleagues who are enrolled in my PT continuing education courses screen positive for adrenal fatigue, or adrenal weakness. My response is that all those who show signs of adrenal fatigue need to take a vacation!

They need to relax more often, laugh more deeply, enjoy time with loved ones and take better care of themselves. Plan time without electronics nearby. Take a break during the day for fresh air. Plan a vacation.

I also usually recommend an evaluation by a medical professional who specializes in hormone and endocrine balancing, like a naturopathic doctor, functional medicine doctor or integrative medicine physician. I work with an entire team of world-class medical professionals that I can refer my patients to depending on their unique needs and geographical location.

I educate my students about how our autonomic nervous system is either in a sympathetic state of “fight or flight” OR in a parasympathetic state of “rest and digest.” It is impossible for both states to co-exist in our body – it is either one or the other at any given time.

Due to the constant demands of work, family life, and increasing volumes of communication from email, texting and social media, many people simply never take the time to unplug or unwind. Their nervous system is always “on.”

In medicine, we call this a “chronic sympathetic state” and it implies a constant effort of pushing oneself to “go, go, go.”

Over time, this chronic sympathetic state can lead to adrenal fatigue or neuro-endocrine imbalance, which I teach my colleagues to identify upon their hands-on clinical exam. We can identify the patients who are chronically stressed out and unable to fully relax.

It is important for people to relax and stabilize their autonomic nervous system for optimal outcomes because nervous tension interferes with the body’s natural healing processes.

Add relaxation to your busy schedule for 20 minutes twice a day to remain calm.

What ever happened to sitting on the porch and watching the sunset?

Now people are more likely to watch the sunset on a video on their phone. 🙁


This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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