Physical Therapy for Vertigo (BPPV)
What Is BPPV?
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a very common vestibular condition that causes vertigo/dizziness. Your vestibular system or “inner ear” is one of three systems that contribute to a person’s balance/equilibrium. BPPV can be triggered by sudden changes in head position, like when a person is getting out of bed or looking both ways to cross the street. In many cases, BPPV is idiopathic and can come up out of nowhere without warning. Sometimes BPPV can be caused by direct trauma to the head. It is important to note that symptoms associated with BPPV are not constant. They only appear with certain directional movements of the head, and resolve over time (often in about a minute).
What Causes BPPV?
Each person has 3 semicircular canals in their inner ear. These canals are filled with fluid called “endolymph”, and are lined with microscopic hairs called “cilia”. When you move your head, microscopic crystals in the semicircular canals called “otoconia” move through the fluid and brush against the hairs. The hairs then send a signal to the brain, so you can detect where your head is in space. When the crystals become displaced or stuck, they can send a false signal to the brain that the head is moving when it really isn’t. This mismatch of information is what causes dizziness associated with BPPV.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
- Canalith Repositioning Procedure
A Physical Therapist will passively move a patient’s head in specific positions to “reset” the crystals in the inner ear, so they stop sending false signals to the brain.
- Activity Modifications
A Physical Therapist can help narrow down which semicircular canal is effected, thereby identifying which movements will trigger BPPV symptoms. If you know what movements will cause a flare up, you can modify your movement to prevent them.
- Gaze Stabilization
A Physical Therapist can help train a patient to coordinate specific eye and head movements while fixating on a stationary spot. This can retrain your brain to not have symptoms of BPPV when you move your head.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is just one of the conditions that Capital Area PT therapists provide assessment and treatment for BPPV (see this patient review). For additional information, contact our physical therapy clinics in Malta – Saratoga Springs at 518-289-5242 , or Queensbury – Glens Falls at 518-502-1154.