Understanding the most common form of vertigo: BPPV

If you’ve ever experienced the disorienting sensation of vertigo, you might be familiar with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This common vestibular disorder can leave you feeling off balance, dizzy, and even nauseous. But fear not, as physiotherapists are equipped with a range of techniques to help alleviate your symptoms and get you back to feeling steady on your feet. Let’s delve into how physiotherapy can be your ally in managing BPPV.


What Causes BPPV?

BPPV occurs when tiny calcium carbonate crystals within the inner ear, known as otoliths or canaliths, become dislodged and migrate into the semicircular canals. These canals are responsible for detecting rotational movements of the head, and when crystals disrupt their function, they send mixed signals to the brain, resulting in vertigo.


How Does a Physiotherapist Diagnose BPPV?

The first step in effective treatment is an accurate diagnosis. Physiotherapists are trained to conduct comprehensive assessments to pinpoint the root cause of your vertigo. Through a series of simple head and body movements, they can determine if your symptoms align with BPPV and rule out other potential causes.


Can Physiotherapy Cure BPPV?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for BPPV, physiotherapy offers highly effective management strategies. One such approach is the Canalith Repositioning Procedure, commonly known as the Epley manoeuvre. This technique involves a sequence of precise head movements designed to guide displaced crystals out of the semicircular canals, providing immediate relief for many patients.


What Exercises Can Help Alleviate Symptoms?

In addition to hands-on manoeuvres, physiotherapists prescribe tailored exercises to improve vestibular function and reduce the frequency and intensity of vertigo episodes. These exercises often focus on enhancing balance, coordination, and gaze stability, helping you regain confidence in your movements and minimize the impact of BPPV on your daily life.


Is Lifestyle Modification Important in Managing BPPV?

Absolutely! Your physiotherapist will work with you to identify lifestyle factors that may exacerbate your symptoms and provide guidance on how to mitigate them. This might include avoiding sudden head movements, maintaining proper hydration, and incorporating relaxation techniques to manage stress, all of which can contribute to a more stable vestibular system.


How Long Does It Take to See Improvement?

The timeline for improvement varies from person to person, but many individuals experience significant relief after just a few physiotherapy sessions. Consistency is key, so adhering to your prescribed treatment plan and following your physiotherapist’s recommendations outside of sessions can accelerate your progress.


What if My Symptoms Persist?

In some cases, BPPV symptoms may persist despite initial treatment attempts. Fear not, as physiotherapists are adept at modifying their approach to suit your unique needs. They may explore alternative repositioning manoeuvres, incorporate additional vestibular rehabilitation exercises, or collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive management of your condition.


In Conclusion

Living with BPPV can be challenging, but with the guidance and expertise of a skilled physiotherapist, you can effectively manage your symptoms and reclaim control over your equilibrium. By addressing the underlying vestibular dysfunction through targeted manoeuvres, exercises, and lifestyle modifications, physiotherapy empowers you to navigate the world with confidence and clarity. So, if vertigo has you feeling unsteady, consider reaching out to a physiotherapist and take the first step toward a more balanced tomorrow.

Seth Corwin