Do you ever get dizzy when rolling over or sitting up in bed? Experiencing a room-spinning sensation may be a sign of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV for short. Onset can occur at any age, but may be more common over the age of 50. Onset in earlier ages is likely due to a head injury and can be overlooked when treatment is occurring for concussion since dizziness may be a side effect of the concussion.

So what is BPPV? BPPV is a condition in which particles (otoconia) have invaded the semi-circular canal, causing bothersome vertigo as the particles move through the canals and stimulate the inner ear system. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting and symptoms are typically worse in the morning.

The Epley’s Maneuver is over 90% effective at treating posterior canal BPPV and can be done in a single physical therapy treatment session. Some patients experience nausea and even vomiting during treatment because the treatment does require moving the head into the most symptomatic positions so it is recommended to take prescribed medication for nausea and bring a driver for any residual dizziness following treatment.

A typical treatment duration for patients suffering from BPPV is one or two visits over the course of a week or two. I’ve experienced a high success rate for full resolution with patients, often in only one visit. Less common types of vertigo can also be treated with physical therapy, but may require a higher frequency or duration of sessions and a physical therapist will determine a recommended course of treatment during the initial evaluation.

So, when the room starts spinning, talk to your doctor about physical therapy right away.  I’d love to answer any questions you may have about your vertigo here at Pacific Physical Therapy.

Alicia Gilfoy PT, MPT has been treating patients with vestibular conditions for 9 years and has taken additional coursework to ensure a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan for her patients.

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