Have you ever had a feeling like the room or world around you was spinning? This is called
“vertigo”. It can be caused for many different reasons- under the umbrella diagnosis of a
The inner ear is the main center for both hearing and balance. Balance is a byproduct of our
vestibular system. There are three semicircular canals in each ear- and they are integral to our
vestibular system because they measure movement in regards to the head on the body or turn
of the body.
One common type of vestibular disorder is called BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional
Vertigo. Let’s break down that term so it doesn’t sound so technical:
Benign = not malignant
Paroxysmal = comes on suddenly
Positional = specific position of head
Vertigo = sensation of spinning
The most common symptom of BPPV is a sudden onset of vertigo with changes in head
position, such as rolling in bed, bending forward, or rinsing hair in the shower. It also can cause
nausea and vomiting, and a feeling of unsteadiness or imbalance. You can see how it can be
very functionally limiting! But there is help.
PT’s trained in these disorders can evaluate for nystagmus, or the oscillation of the eyes, when
testing the patient, and can determine which ear is involved, what semicircular canals are
involved, and treat the condition accordingly. The good news is that BPPV, when assessed
correctly, is highly treatable on the first visit. The bad news is that it can reoccur and that 50%
recurrences occur within 6 months. Part of the PT treatment is to teach the patient how to do the
techniques at home if there is a reoccurence.
If you have had these symptoms, or know someone who has them, Connect Physical Therapy
can help. Give us a call!