Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

One of the main causes of vertigo (dizziness) is a condition known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

This Condition is characterized by episodes of sudden and severe vertigo when the head is moved around. Common triggers include rolling over in bed, getting out of bed and lifting the head to look up. BPPV tends to come and go for no apparent reason. An affected person may have attacks of disabling vertigo for a few weeks, then a period of time with no symptoms at all.

In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, dizziness is generally thought to be due to debris which has collected within a part of the inner ear. This debris can be thought of as "ear rocks", although the formal name is "otoconia". It is thought that an injury or degeneration in the ear may allow the 'ear rocks' to escape into the balance organ and interfere.

Factors that may allow these 'ear rocks' to migrate into the balance organ include:

  • Head or ear injury
  • Ear surgery or ear infection,
  • Degeneration of the inner ear structures
  • Vestibular neuritis (viral infection of the inner ear)
  • Meniere's disease (disorder of the inner ear)

However In around half of BPPV cases, the cause can't be found (idiopathic BPPV).

Diagnosis & Treatment

Dizziness and vertigo are common to a wide range of medical conditions, so careful differential diagnosis by our experienced Physiotherapists is important and will involve several tests to diagnose BPPV. Not all physiotherapists and Doctors are trained in the assessment and treatment of BPPV and BPPV-trained physiotherapists undertake specific education to diagnose and successfully treat this condition.

Your skilled therapist will apply specific techniques to relocate the "ear rocks" to an area in the inner ear that doesn't stimulate feelings of dizziness or vertigo in order to resolve your symptoms.

The good news it can generally be corrected very quickly. The common success rate is 75% after a single treatment and 90% after a second treatment. If your symptoms sound like it is BPPV, the easiest way to diagnose and treat your symptoms is to book an appointment with your Doctor or one of our BPPV-trained Physiotherapists.

Remember that our practices have a number of excellent physiotherapists, but when you are booking for specialized treatment in this area, please notify the practice when making your appointment.

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