Root Cause Evaluation is the Missing Component

Many people come to me and say that they have been diagnosed with vertigo. Vertigo is a symptom of something else or a cluster of other things that are going on, but vertigo is not in itself the root of the problem.

It is kind of like going to the doctor and saying “I have back pain.” In response, the doctor says “I am going to diagnose you with back pain.”

You think, “Thanks that’s great but that’s what I told you. What am I supposed to do now?”

The diagnosis of vertigo is really describing a symptom, not a root cause! In general, it is important to keep digging until you find the underlying problem by seeking a Root Cause Evaluation.

Medication might be okay for short-term management and some people might need medication for long-term management, if they are not good candidates for Vestibular Rehabilitation physical therapy.

People with vertigo can be made more comfortable by taking medications as prescribed to reduce their symptoms of vertigo, but overall coming to a conclusion to the root cause of the problem and then trying to resolve the problem, is a better long term route for improving quality of life.

Root Cause Determines the Treatment

When potential new patients ask me what I will recommend for them for treatments, I say it all depends on the root cause(s) we are able to discover during the Initial Root Cause Evaluation and Treatment session.

Giving general exercises without performing a proper root cause might help somewhat, but it will not yield as good of an outcome because it is non-specific.

Auto-Immune Disease: An Example of the Importance of Root Cause

For example, I myself have been recently diagnosed with a thyroid problem and my doctor was going to put me on thyroid medicine, the synthetic thyroid hormones.

I thought “Well, I don’t want to be on this for the rest of my life,” so I went to a physical therapist who is also a nutritionist and a biofeedback specialist.

She said “Why don’t we do a root cause evaluation to figure out why your thyroid is not working – why did it shut down?”

She gave me a root cause evaluation and it turned out I have some food allergies, like gluten sensitivity, dairy sensitivity and sensitivities to other foods as well. Because I was having food allergies and continual digestive problems, that was apparently causing my immune system to react to the foods I was eating. Then my immune system was getting overexcited and it started attacking my own healthy cells, such as my thyroid. This is an example of an auto-immune disease that was causing the thyroid problem, and it would have been totally missed if I had just taken the thyroid medication and stopped pursuing the root cause.

We were able to figure out that if I could fix my digestion, then I could calm down my immune system and eventually alleviate my thyroid problem – then I don’t have to stay on thyroid medicine for the rest of my life.

That’s an example in my own life of digging for the underlying problems by doing a root cause evaluation instead of just making my destiny be about staying on this medication for the rest of my life without a proper root cause evaluation.

In your own life, you can advocate for yourself to assess for the root cause.

Let’s go for the root cause!

If you would like to have a Root Cause Evaluation for your dizziness, vertigo, imbalance or falls, please request a consultation.


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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