Dizziness, BPPV and vestibular rehabilitation
Have you ever had trouble balancing and felt that the room is spinning? Vertigo could be the culprit.
Unwanted dizziness and the feeling that the world is spinning around you can be uncomfortable and alarming. Sometimes, these bouts of dizziness and disorientation can be caused by vertigo. Vertigo itself is just a term describing a state of dizziness or the feeling of surroundings tilting or spinning. The most common cause of “true” vertigo however is known as BPPV.
What the heck is BPPV?
Aside from being a tongue twister, BPPV stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. That probably just sounds like a bunch of medical mumbo-jumbo so lets break that phrase down.
- Benign – Means that the condition is non-life threatening, not malignant, and not disposed to cause harm.
- Paroxysmal – Means that it occurs suddenly, and reoccurs suddenly.
- Positional – Means that it gets triggered by certain head positions or certain movements which change the position of the head
- Vertigo – As we mentioned before, vertigo is that umbrella term describing dizziness and the sensation of rotating or spinning.
What causes an episode of BPPV?
BPPV is essentially caused by a mechanical issue of the workings in the inner ear. It occurs when tiny calcium carbonate crystals are dislodged from their normal resting position in the inner ear, and move into one of the 3 semicircular canals, where they don’t belong. When these crystals are in the semicircular canals, they can interfere with the normal movement of fluid, which the body uses to sense the motion of the head. This interference causes the ear to send false signals to the brain, which results in the vertigo experience.
How is it treated?
Luckily, nearly all cases of BPPV can be corrected mechanically by trained vestibular therapists. The therapist can use specific treatment maneuvers to dislodge and guide the crystals back to their correct position, thus restoring normal flow of fluid and resolve the experience of vertigo.
Is all dizziness caused by BPPV?
Not all dizziness or sensations of vertigo are caused by BPPV and the misplaced calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear. Often times, dizziness can be caused by compression of cranial nerves. Compression of these nerves can be caused by tightness of the muscles and joints of the neck or some tightness and dysfunction of the jaw (TMJ).
If you’d like to learn more about BPPV and other causes of vertigo you can: