Do you ever feel like the room is spinning when you change your position or even just move your head? This can be a concerning and uncomfortable sensation. This symptom is often associated with a condition known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
What is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
BPPV is a common disorder of the inner ear that can lead to brief episodes of vertigo.
The typical presentation of BPPV consists of recurrent, brief attacks of vertigo generally provoked by changes in head position, such as looking up, bending over, lying down, or rolling over in bed. However, several alternative presentations are possible. For example, some patients present with complaints of prolonged unsteadiness instead of the typical brief vertigo sensation. This is most common in older patients.
Why does vertigo from BPPV happen?
BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles called otoconia become dislodged and move from the saccule of your inner ear into the fluid-filled semicircular canals. The movement of these crystals in the fluid disrupts your sense of balance because of the information mismatch to your brain that you get about your positioning in space from your eyes (vision system) and your ear (vestibular system).
Your inner ear consists of parts that are involved with hearing and balance. BPPV occurs when crystals from the saccule enter the semicircular canals.
How can a physiotherapist help to resolve BPPV?
Physiotherapy can be a beneficial treatment option for individuals with BPPV. Here's how physiotherapy can help:
Canalith Repositioning Procedures (CRPs)
Physiotherapists often use specific maneuvers or exercises to reposition the dislodged otoconia within the inner ear canals. The most common of these maneuvers is the Epley maneuver, which involves a series of head and body movements to guide the otoconia out of semicircular canals. These maneuvers are typically performed under the supervision of a trained physiotherapist and can provide immediate relief from vertigo in many cases.
In addition to Canalith Repositioning Procedures, physiotherapists may recommend vestibular rehabilitation exercises. These exercises are designed to help your brain adapt to the changes in your balance system caused by BPPV. They focus on improving gaze stability, balance, and coordination.
Physiotherapists can educate you about your condition, its triggers, and help you understand how to manage BPPV, if it is to recur.
Home Exercise Programs
Physiotherapists often provide patients with home exercise programs to continue their recovery and improve their balance.
Don't suffer in Silence
It's important to note that physiotherapy can be very effective in treating BPPV, whether it’s acute (just happened) or chronic (has been happening for years). It's essential to have a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from an experienced healthcare professional.