Physical Therapy Treatments For Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Physical Therapy Treatments For Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a non – life threatening type of vertigo, can affect your life in many unpleasant ways.

From dizziness to nausea, if this type of vertigo is bothering you, you’ll want to feel better as soon as possible.

Though it is not a dangerous condition, having to experience vertigo constantly can make you feel like you can’t participate fully in your own life.

However, you shouldn’t worry.

There are many things that can help you live your life with vertigo.

Specifically, physical therapy is among the most effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Look for vestibular physical therapy for balance near me to start your path to improvement.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo?

Taking a look at the name of this disorder, it’s a bit of an alphabet soup, which is why we’ll be referring to it as just vertigo in this article as well.

Here is a quick breakdown of what it all means:

  • Benign – this condition is not life threatening
  • Paroxysmal – means that the sensations you experience happen suddenly
  • Positional – the condition is triggered by certain movements and changes in position
  • Vertigo – the feeling that the world around you is spinning or swaying

If you experience severe vertigo your chances of falling can increase.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, an inner ear problem that affects about ten percent of adults, is the most common cause of vertigo.

BPPV affects the vestibular system, which is the system in your body that works to maintain your balance.

When your head moves into certain positions you may experience brief periods of dizziness.

Sometimes tilting your head, lying down, turning over, or standing up can also trigger episodes of this type of vertigo.

As a result, fall prevention physical therapy may focus on addressing vertigo.

Symptoms Of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Usually, a benign paroxysmal positional vertigo episode will last less than one minute.

The hallmark type of dizziness associated with this type of vertigo is dizziness that feels like the room is spinning around you.

Aside from that, the following are symptoms of BPPV:

  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Unsteadiness
  • Loss of balance

Abnormal eye movements, referred to as nystagmus, often accompanies an episode of vertigo as well.

What Causes Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is caused by a disturbance in your inner ear.

The tubes inside your ears, called semicircular canals, contain fluid.

There is a layer of a substance called calcium carbonate, or otoconia, in your inner ear.

This stuff is also the main component of both eggshells and pearls, strangely enough.

Sometimes, crystals of calcium carbonate may break off and enter your semicircular canals.

This can stimulate nerve endings in your inner ear and cause the dizziness you may associate with vertigo.

Often, the cause of vertigo is not known, but there are some risk factors.

Head trauma, aging, and infection can all cause the crystals in your inner ear to loosen.

Of course, seniors are more prone to falling for a number of other reasons as well – from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders.

As a result, physical therapy for seniors often focuses on vertigo as well as these other conditions, in order to reduce fall risk.

Conditions such as Meniere disease, diabetes, hypertension, allergies, and osteoporosis may also cause this issue.

There is some evidence that BPPV is hereditary, and it is more common in women.

Diagnosing Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

A test called the Dix-Hallpike test can be used to diagnose BPPV by your provider holding your head in a certain position while you rapidly lie down.

A Washington DC physical therapist can use positional tests to see if you have reactions consistent with BPPV.

You may also get a thorough physical and neurological exam for diagnosis.

Caloric stimulation, a technique in which a doctor uses warming and cooling of water in your inner ear while observing your eye movements, is another common test for BPPV.

How A Physical Therapist Can Treat Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

When looking for a physical therapist you’ll want to find one who can help you evaluate and treat the dizziness and imbalance you experience from your benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Ideally, your physical therapist will have experience treating people with physical therapy for neurological conditions and with vestibular rehabilitation.

When meeting with your physical therapist, try to practice describing your symptoms in detail so they can best assist you.

Next we will discuss some of the treatments that may be used in physical therapy to help you with your BPPV.

How A Physical Therapist Can Diagnose and Treat BPPV | Washington DC Physical Therapists

1. The Epley Maneuver

The Epley Maneuver is considered one of the most effective treatments for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

The maneuver involves rotating your head at different angles for between thirty and sixty seconds.

The goal of this exercise is to move the calcium carbonate to the correct part of your ear, so it is no longer causing your nervous system to react inappropriately.

2. The Liberatory Maneuver

The Liberatory Maneuver is used for a longer lasting BPPV of the anterior and posterior canals.

It involves your physical therapist placing a hand on your shoulder and neck while you do a similar movement as with the Epley Maneuver.

You would move to lie on your affected side and then, with your physical therapist still supporting you, you would move onto your opposite side.

You would hold this position for between two and five minutes and repeat the exercise as needed.

3. The Appiani Maneuver

The Appiani Maneuver is also for horizontal or lateral canal BPPV.

You would go from being in a sitting position to lying on your side.

Then your head would be quickly turned toward the ground and be held in that position for two minutes.

4. Vestibular Rehabilitation Physical Therapy

The vestibular system is the system in your body that contributes most to balance.

Vestibular rehabilitation exercises train your brain to use different visual and other cues to help maintain your balance.

These have helped people with their symptoms caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

If you’re struggling with your benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, at Capitol Physical Therapy we can help.

If you’re hoping to improve your balance or decrease your dizziness, you don’t have to be at the mercy of the vertigo from your BPPV.

Book your appointment with Capital Physical Therapy today to get started.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC