Up to 2.4 % of people have BPPV in a lifetime, and people over 60 years are 7 times more likely to have the condition. This is only one of many conditions that can cause vertigo, a feeling of movement either when you’re not moving or when you stop moving.
People feel lots of different dizziness sensations but BPPV is characterised by spinning type sensation of either yourself or the room. The most reliable signs of BPPV are that the spinning sensation occurs rolling over in bed and that the spinning sensation lasts less than 1 minute. The vertigo is usually absent when upright. Often people will develop some unsteadiness when standing or walking but can usually do their normal activities without much trouble.
Your physiotherapist can accurately assess and resolve this problem.
What Causes BPPV?
BPPV is a condition of the inner ear. The problem is caused by calcium carbonate crystals breaking free from receptors in a central chamber and moving into the semicircular canal. The canals and the central chamber are filled with fluid and it is the movement of the fluid that signals to the brain that head movement has occurred.
Normally the canals on each side of the head work in pairs to perceive rotational motion in different planes. There are 3 semicircular canals set at different planes and the commonest one affected is the bottommost or Posterior canal.
If you lie down and either roll to the affected side or put your head back, gravity will make the heavy crystal debris to fall which will move the fluid within the canal. It is the movement of fluid on only one side that creates a reflex and makes your eyes dart up and back, which we call nystagmus. The spinning sensation and nystagmus will last for 30 seconds or less. When you sit up the spinning sensation will occur again because the crystals are falling back to their original position in the canal.
How Can Physiotherapy help?
The good news is that you don’t have to put up with the episodic vertigo! Treatment is as simple as getting the crystal debris back into the central chamber by a series of moves called repositioning manoeuvres. Depending on which canal is affected determines what specific manoeuvre is used by the therapist.
In 80% of cases only one manoeuvre is required to relocate the debris but if there are multiple canals affected or problems on both sides then it is necessary to stage the relocations over a few visits.
You may see on the net that you can do the relocation for yourself but if it is not in the posterior canal the technique will not work so it is best to consult a trained physiotherapist to assess your condition and diagnose you correctly.
If you would like more information or want to make an appointment to see Steve, please book online or call our reception team.