Vertigo

Vertigo is a symptom that many people will experience in their lifetime.  There are many different causes of vertigo and some of them can actually be treated with physical therapy.  If you suffer from vertigo, hopefully you will find some of this information helpful and may be able to treat your symptoms yourself.  If not, go see your doctor or come in to Continuum Wellness Physical Therapy as soon as possible.

Vertigo is a term that is described as feeling like the room is spinning and turning.  About 50% of dizziness symptoms are inner ear related and 50% of those are termed BPPV or Benign Peroxysmal Positional Vertigo.[1]   This is a condition that is most effectively treated with physical therapy, with most people feeling significant and long lasted relief in 2-3 visits.

BPPV is caused by small particles, sometimes referred to as “crystals”, that come loose in your inner ear (from the Utricle) and travel into one of the three semi-circular canals.  The medical name for these crystals are “otoconia”.

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Symptoms of BPPV include a sensation of spinning, dizziness, nausea and lightheadedness.  The cause of BPPV is usually related to a change in head position in regard to gravity.  This usually manifests itself when rolling over in bed or bending over and looking under something like a car or low shelf.  The most common cause of BPPV for people under 50 is a head injury.[2]  People 60 and over, especially those with osteoporosis, tend to get BPPV more than other people.

BPPV can be diagnosed with different tests performed by your doctor or physical therapist.  During testing, your head is placed in different positions and the doctor examines your eyes, looking for nystagmus, which is when your eyes jump in different directions.  Different head positions and different directions of nystagmus will tell us what canal is involved.  Your physical therapist will determine if you actually do have BPPV or if your vertigo and dizziness symptoms are caused by something else.  These could include low blood pressure, central nervous system, vestibular nerve irritation, Menieres disease (18% of inner ear dizziness[3]), inner ear infection and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.

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Self treatment of a vertigo episode can be effective if you are familiar with the Epley maneuver, which is a series of movements and positions that allow the otoconia to travel back into the utricle.  The Epley maneuver has been shown to be around 80% effective in treating vertigo, especially when it involves the posterior canal.[4]

Here is an illustration of the Epley maneuver.

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Here is a video of the Epley Maneuver:

If you ever have an episode of vertigo go see your doctor as soon as possible or come into Continuum Wellness Physical Therapy.  We will do a free screening and tell you if you are a candidate for PT for your symptoms.

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[1] “Outline of causes of dizziness – Dizziness-and-balance.com.” 2003. 16 Mar. 2016 <http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/outline.htm>

[2] “BPPV – Dizziness-and-balance.com.” 2003. 16 Mar. 2016 <http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/bppv/bppv.html>

[3] “Dizziness-and-balance.com: Disorder index.” 2003. 16 Mar. 2016 <http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/>

[4] “Epley-CRP maneuver for BPPV – Dizziness-and-balance.com.” 2015. 16 Mar. 2016 <http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/bppv/epley/epley.html>

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