Have you ever had a brief dizzy episode where you said to yourself: “The room is spinning around me”; “When I get out of the bed in the morning I always get dizzy” or “ I can’t go down the grocery store aisles without feeling like my head is spinning”; then chances are you are experiencing a specific type of vertigo called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV
BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo and this disorder is caused by problems in the inner ear. The inner ear contains three semicircular canals with a fluid that runs in-between the canals that helps detect where our head is in space. Within the labyrinth of the inner ear lie collections of calcium crystals known as otoconia. In patients with BPPV, the otoconia are dislodged from their usual position and they migrate over time into one of the semicircular canals. These are essentially “rocks” in your inner ear that block the fluid from flowing to the proper position in the semicircular canals which throws off your ability to determine where your head is in space causing the dizzy sensation you’re experiencing.
It can be triggered by:
- Tilting your head to far to either side
- Rolling over in bed
- Looking up or under
- Sudden head motion
BPPV may be made worse by:
- Changes in barometric pressure - patients often feel symptoms approximately two days before rain or snow
- Lack of sleep (required amount of sleep may vary widely)
Common Signs and Symptoms are:
- Vertigo: Spinning sensation (not light-headedness or feeling off-balance.)
- Short duration: Lasts only seconds to minutes (usually less than 60 seconds)
- Positional in onset: only induced by a change in position
- Visual disturbance: It may be difficult to read or see during an attack.
- Vomiting is uncommon, but possible.
While this form of dizziness can be debilitating and anxiety producing it is often fixed with a simple treatment that takes approximately 10 MINUTES…Yes you read that right, months of dizziness can be almost completely resolved within 10 minutes! Once the condition is properly assessed by your therapist the therapist can perform a simple repositioning technique that uses gravity to move the calcium build-up causing the condition. This most commonly utilized maneuver is called the Epley Maneuver.
- Patient starts in long sitting, head rotated 45 degrees to affected side
- Patient rapidly reclined to supine position with neck slightly extended. Hold position for 30 seconds, or until nystagmus and dizziness subside
- Rotate head 90 degrees to opposite side. Hold position for 20 seconds, or until nystagmus and dizziness subside
- Patient rotated 90 degrees from supine to side-lying. Hold position for 20 seconds, or until nystagmus and dizziness subside
- Bring patient up into short-sitting
May need to complete this maneuver 1 to 3 visits complete resolution of symptoms.
After treatment: for at least one week, avoid provoking head positions that might bring BPPV on again.
- Use two pillows when you sleep or sleep more upright
- Avoid sleeping completely flat
- Avoid sleeping on the "bad" side.
- Don't turn your head far up or far down.
There are a variety of other vestibular disorders that also cause dizziness and vertigo besides BPPV that can be easily assessed by your therapist to determine what exercises can be used to correct the symptoms.
So, if your world is spinning around you come stop by the clinic and we’ll help bring you back to the center of the world!