Every year millions of people in the United States develop vertigo- the sensation you or your surroundings are spinning. Often this is the cause for a multitude of other symptoms such as imbalance, lightheaded-ness, dizziness, nausea, and even migraines, that not only increase your chances of falling, but also negatively affect your ability to function in daily life.
Vertigo can occur when there is a problem with the brain, sensory nerve pathway, or most commonly the inner ear. Spells of dizziness can be temporary or ongoing, and can vary in intensity.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a common inner ear problem affecting the vestibular system used to maintain balance. It is triggered by abnormal movements of "crystals" in the inner ear via changes in head position, most commonly when laying down, turning over in bed, or looking up. While the initial cause for this crystal movement is unknown, crystals can become loose due to head trauma, infections, conditions such as Meniere's disease, or aging. It has also been linked to dementia, and is twice as common in women than men.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Fortunately, most people recover form BPPV with a simple, but very specific head and neck maneuver, the Epley maneuver, performed by a physical therapist. The Epley is a technique designed to "manually" re-position the crystals to a more open area of the inner ear where they can be reabsorbed.
Frequently, cervical exercises will be implemented to prevent crystals settling from a lack of cervical motion, and to improve overall functional movement patterns. Both cervical and other positional exercises are given for the patient to use at home for greater effectiveness, as well as to prevent future vertigo symptoms.
Within 3 years of having BPPV, approximately 50% of people may have a recurrence. Symptoms can return if new crystals break, or even with changes in the weather. However, you'll be able to recognize the symptoms and keep yourself safe with the tools given to you at therapy. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are in need of a "tune-up!"
Our physical therapist and assistants are prepared through education and experience to help you recover from your vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems!