What is BPPV?
BPPV stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo which means a sudden, false sense of rotational movement and dizziness that occurs in response to certain head positions. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo and is more common in older and female populations. It is not associated with hearing problems. The vertigo experience is caused by the inner ear sending false signals to the brain. One structure in the inner ear, the semicircular canals, is responsible for telling the brain when the head is rotating and another structure in the inner ear, the otolith organs, is responsible for monitoring the head’s response to gravity. The semicircular canals are not normally sensitive to gravity; however, tiny crystals from the otolith organs can travel into the semicircular canals causing these structures to send a signal to the brain in response to gravity. Because these movement signals do not match up with the information that the brain is receiving from the eyes, muscles, and joints, a sense of dizziness or vertigo is experienced.
70% of people with BPPV experience brief episodes of vertigo and nystagmus – involuntary eye movements. These episodes are most commonly triggered by changes in head position particularly when getting in or out of bed, rolling over in bed, tilting the head forward, or bending forward. These symptomatic episodes are short, typically only lasting 30-40 seconds.
How is BPPV treated?
Treatment of BPPV involves specific maneuvers with the aim of returning the tiny crystals in the semicircular canals to their proper location. The exercise is usually performed several times until the symptoms disappear. The Epley Maneuver was the most common treatment for BPPV until 2012 when the half somersault maneuver was proposed. The half somersault maneuver is often preferable to the Epley Maneuver because it has a lower rate of recurrence, is easier to perform at home, and causes significantly less negative side effects.
Diagrams describing both maneuvers are depicted below. If you would like more detailed instruction on how to perform these exercises, suspect that you may have BPPV, have neck pain that may be causing dizziness, or have any other questions or concerns, the doctors at West Family Chiropractic would be happy to help. Call the office to set up an appointment.