What is Vertigo?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo, which is a false sensation of spinning.

Benign – it is not life-threatening

Paroxysmal – it comes in sudden, brief spells

Positional – it gets triggered by certain head positions or movements

Vertigo – a false sense of rotational movement

Most often, people feel like things around spinning around them while they are staying still.  This spinning sensation is triggered with head movements. This false sense of movement can be quite scary, especially if you do not know what is happening. Typically, this movement is worse when turning to one side over the other. 

What is actually happening?

BPPV is a mechanical problem in the inner ear. It occurs when some of the crystals (otoconia) that are normally embedded in part of the inner ear become dislodged and move into one or more of the 3 fluid-filled semicircular canals, where they are not supposed to be. These crystals then interfere with the normal movement of fluid through the semicircular canals which sense head motion. This causes the inner ear to send false signals to the brain which causes the sensation of spinning. Vertigo symptoms typically last less than one minute, however, they can last longer. Between the vertigo spells, some people feel symptom free while others feel a sense of imbalance or feeling off.

Assessment and Treatment

Vertigo can be assessed and treated by a Phyiotherapist trained in Vestibular therapy. We conduct a thorough vestibular assessment to determine if it is indeed vertigo or another vestibular dysfunction. Vertigo treatment requires a series of head and body movements done on a treatment table. Most people that experience Vertigo require 2-3 treatments.

It is also important to note that Vertigo can come on spontaneously or it can be caused from a virus or head injury. Vertigo can also re-occur. However, it can be treated and with vestibular therapy you will be provided with information and resources so you will be prepared if it does reoccur down the road.

If you are experiencing vertigo symptoms, such as feeling the room spinning with head movements, or other dizziness. Book in for a full vestibular assessment so we can get you back on track.

Lauren Romeril, PT.


Image credit: Biology. Authored by: OpenStax. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://cnx.org/contents/185cbf87-c72e-48f5-b51e-f14f21b5eabd@9.44:1/Biology. License: CC BY: Attribution