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  • Writer's pictureDr. Josh Jordan

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

When you hear vertigo you probably think of dizziness. But did you know the term “vertigo” refers to a specific type of dizziness? Vertigo is the sensation of the room spinning around you and that’s exactly how my patients describe it when I am treating them in the Westport, Connecticut Physical Therapy clinic at Sherpa Gym. While most patients experience specific spinning with BPPV, sometimes you can just feel off balance. An extensive history of the patient’s limitations and symptoms is very important for determining what the patient is suffering from.

“I rolled over in bed and all the sudden the room was spinning. It only lasted a minute or so, but now I am scared to turn my head or go to sleep.” When this happens it is indicative of a condition that’s abbreviated BPPV: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. BPPV is caused by changes in the anatomy of your inner ear (see below). When my patient came in and told me this we did an assessment to rule in/out conditions. One of them was a direct test for BPPV (the Dix-Hallpike maneuver) to confirm, and then we performed a technique (Epley maneuver) to alleviate the symptoms. She came in later that week and hadn’t had any episodes of dizziness. Sometimes all it takes is 1 visit!



graphic of ear canal

graphic of vertigo


The actual semicircular canals are shown above on the left. The picture on the right shows what’s inside the vestibule (labeled on the left picture). As you move your head, the fluid inside the canals lags behind and moves the hairs shown. There are calcium crystals in the vestibule which help keep the hairs in place. When these get loose they can fall into the canals, causing BPPV and dizziness.

BPPV is only one of many vestibular conditions that can cause dizziness. We look at your eye movements, head movements, and balance to determine what is causing your specific dizziness. See one of our vestibular physical therapists at Zion Physical Therapy to figure out what is causing your dizziness and get back to your full function. You do not need a prescription or referral prior to your visit.

Call (212) 353-8693 or email schedule@zionpt.com to schedule!

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