Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an inner ear problem that causes short periods of vertigo (room spinning) when your head is moved in certain positions. It is one of the most common types of vertigo that is scary and can limit mobility and lead to a fall. It occurs most commonly when lying down, getting out of bed, rolling in bed, or looking up and down. BPPV occurs when pieces of calcium carbonate crystals (Otoconia) break off from a part of your inner ear where they are supposed to be and end up in the semicircular balance canals where they are NOT supposed to be. When you move your head or body in the positions mentioned above, the crystals move in the fluid of the canal and abnormally stimulates the nerve endings, causing you to experience vertigo. The condition can be caused by trauma to the head, infection, sinus issues, Meniere’s disease, and very common with aging. Often, there is often no obvious cause to it occurring; however, once people get BPPV, it has been found that there is a 20-30% chance it will reoccur. The good thing is, it is a very treatable condition.

The Treatment…

Following a series of tests to determine which semicircular canal the crystals are floating in (it can occur in any of the three canals), the Physical Therapist will perform the canal specific repositioning techniques to  reposition the crystals out of the semicircular canal they are located in and put them back into the area in the inner ear in which they belong.  Most patients (90-95%) get complete resolution of their vertigo in 1-2 treatments. Once treated and BPPV has resolved, patients are encouraged to return to normal activities. No additional exercises are necessary after the treatment.  If the symptoms of BPPV reoccur, the Physical Therapist is contacted and the treatment is performed again to resolve the symptoms.