What is BPPV?
BPPV stands for ‘Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo’ and is a type of dizziness commonly experienced by adults during movements of the head. Patients often describe it as a ‘room spinning’ dizziness as it feels like the room is spinning around them.
BPPV occurs when small crystal-like ‘otoconia’ escape into the semi-circular canals of the inner ear, rather than being contained in their usual resting spot (the utricle). The semi-circular canals give our brain information about head movements through space, so when these crystals escape into the semi-circular canals, they cause incorrect information to be sent to the brain about where our head is in space. This results in dizziness during head movements, such as rolling in bed and going from lying to sitting.
What causes BPPV?
BPPV can be caused by trauma to the head or ear (such as a knock to the head or a roller coaster ride), or can occur following an upper respiratory tract infection. However, most commonly, BPPV occurs for no known reason. The symptoms often come on suddenly, with no obvious preceding event.
How is BPPV treated?
The good news is, BPPV can be really effectively treated by physiotherapy! We use a series of head and body movements to move the otoconia out of the semi-circular canals and back to the utricle where they belong. Treatment usually results in immediate improvements in symptoms, although you can feel a bit groggy after treatment so we advise you not to drive immediately after your appointment.
The specific movements required will depend on which canal or canals the otoconia are in, and if they are free floating or stuck in the semi-circular canal. Your physiotherapist will determine this by using movement and positional tests along with the pattern of your symptoms to determine which particular manoeuvre will best resolve your symptoms. Physiotherapy can also assist in the treatment of neck pain and headaches that often accompanies BPPV as people often find themselves holding their neck stiffly to avoid movement as it brings on their dizziness.
If you are experiencing BPPV then don’t suffer in silence. Let our experienced Physiotherapists help restore your function and resolve your dizziness!