If the Room is Spinning, Physical Therapy Can Help9 Comments
Have you ever woken up and felt dizzy? Did you feel like the room was spinning? Chances are, you thought something was seriously wrong and possibly went to the ER. Once all the medical tests were done and it was cleared that you were not having a stroke, you may have been given an anti-vertigo medication and sent home. What many people do not know is that this condition is something that could easily be treated without medication and can be cleared in as little as one session with a physical therapist. I am talking about positional vertigo, one of the most common reasons that people visit their primary doctor.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, is the most common cause of vertigo. It often develops very suddenly and causes a spinning sensation with head movements or changes in position. BPPV is a disorder of the vestibular system in the inner ear. The vestibular system has fluid-filled canals that sense movement when your head changes positions. When the fluid moves, your vestibular system sends a signal to your brain that you have changed position.
BPPV happens when small pieces of bone made of calcium break free and float around the canals. These bones, or crystals as they are often called, cause movement in the fluid, and the brain gets confusing signals that you are moving even though you are not. This is what causes the spinning sensation. Usually the sensation lasts a brief period of less than a few minutes and happens only when you change positions or move your head. Once those crystals settle at the bottom of the canal and are no longer moving the fluid in your ear, the spinning sensation stops.
Majority of the time, BPPV comes out of the blue with no way of predicting it. Occasionally it may result from a bump to the head, such as a car accident or a fall. An inner ear infection may also make an individual more susceptible to BPPV. Although the causes of BPPV are mostly unknown, the evaluation and treatments are very well documented. There are some simple treatments that can be done by a trained physical therapist with a success rate of almost 80% in as little as 1-2 sessions. The Epley Maneuver involves moving the head in such a way to reposition the crystals so that they are not floating in the canals. Once these crystals are repositioned, the vertigo symptoms should subside. There is always a chance the symptoms may return so the Epley Maneuver can be taught as a home treatment if the patient wishes.
If you have experienced brief bouts of dizziness with position changes, ask your doctor if you may benefit from treatment from a physical therapist trained in vestibular rehabilitation. You may be amazed by the results and may be able to go on vertigo-free.