Physical and Occupational Therapy

Be in the Know, and Slow the Woe of Vertigo

The most common type of dizziness or spinning sensation, according to WebMD, is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or  BPPV (for short).  It effects over 200,000 people in the US every year.  BPPV is caused when small crystal like particles in your ear are out of their normal location.


This type of vertigo is triggered by the position of your head when lying down, rolling to one side or getting up.  The symptoms are intense and the main ones include: spinning sensation, dizziness and nausea.

Some other symptoms are: nystagmus (repeated uncontrolled eye movements), sudden loss of balance and lightheadedness.

Autumn swirling trees

Most patients with BPPV can clearly identify what movement triggers an episode.  “Every time I lay down on my right side the room 

starts spinning”, or “every time I lay flat I get very dizzy”.  The kicker about this aliment is that if untreated it can last anywhere from 6 months up to years; however with 1-2 physical therapy treatments 90% of patients see a complete reduction in symptoms.

Not only can 1-2 visits cure you from your vertigo, a study published by J Laryngol Otol in 2009 showed that even after 5 years 65% of patients treated in PT for vertigo had no re-occurrence of their symptoms.  (J Larynogol Otol.2009 Jan; 123(1): 69-74. doi:10. 1017/Soo22215108002430.E pub 2008 May20. Long term follow-up after Epley’s manoeuvre in patients with BPPV) (

So what are the therapists doing that’s making such a difference in symptoms and so quickly?  Simply put… they are performing an “Epley” maneuver which helps the crystals in your inner ear return to their original home.  This effectively and very efficiently stops your symptoms.  There are 4 different maneuvers a therapist can use to correct your vertigo and which one is chosen is based upon where the crystals are in your ear and on where they need them to go.


The therapist will evaluate your symptoms and perform some tests to determine which maneuver would be effective for your vertigo.  It’s important to be treated by a skilled PT or PTA that has been trained in the treatment of vertigo for your results to be as effective as described above.

If you think you have this type of vertigo contact your local physical therapy office today!  To contact us with more questions or to set up an appointment:

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