The sensation of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), often referred to as vertigo, is frequently described as “the room is spinning.” Symptoms of BPPV are often felt when you are moving your head in certain positions, such as getting up from or rolling in bed.1 BPPV is a common inner-ear issue that affects the vestibular system—which is a system that contributes to your balance. Not only does BPPV affect balance, but it can affect quality of life, as it can lead to reduction of activities of daily living, increase in falls and depression.2 When differentiating dizziness from vertigo, vertigo is often times described as the feeling as if “the room is spinning,” rather than feeling “lightheaded,” but symptoms can range from nausea, vomiting, sweating, and even abnormal eye movements.
Your physical therapist will take you through a series of tests and comprehensive questioning to help get you on your path to recovery, as various techniques provided by a trained physical therapists often result in long-term resolution of symptoms.3,4 With this said, current treatment approaches include rehabilitative exercises, balance training, proprioception (your ability to know where your body part is in space), and physical maneuvers—all of which are a safe and effective for treatment of BPPV.5
Please consider seeing your physical therapist if you are experiencing any vertigo like symptoms. If you are experiencing any form vertigo symptoms in combination with any of the following: double vision, difficulty speaking, change in alertness, arm/leg weakness, and/or inability to walk please, call 911 immediately—as these symptoms likely warrant an examination by a medical provider.
1) von Brevern M, Radtke A, Lezius F, et al. Epidemiology of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a population based study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2007;78: 710 –715
2) Oghalai JS, Manolidis S, Barth JL, et al. Unrecognized benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in elderly patients. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;122:630 – 634.
3) Helminski JO, Zee DS, Janssen I, Hain TC. Effectiveness of particle repositioning maneuvers in the treatment of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a systematic review. Phys Ther. 2010;90:663–678.
4) Helminski JO. Effectivess of the canalith repositioning procedure in the treatment of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Phys Ther. 2014:94(10):1373–1382.
5) Hilton MP, Pinder DK. The Epley (canalith repositioning) manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;12:CD003162.
Written by: Todd Hodenfield, PT, DPT, OCS