Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo also known as BPPV

Written by: Dr. Stephanie Wilfong, DPT, LMT

When you are young, children often think it is fun to spin in circles and induce dizziness. A false sense of spinning, known as vertigo, is generally less desirable. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common form of vertigo and is most prevalent in older adults. These bouts of dizziness are generally brief, but can range from mild to intense symptoms. These symptoms are generally brought on by certain movements, such as rolling over in bed or bending the head forward. BPPV itself is generally not serious, but it can be a problem if the feelings of dizziness may increase your risk of falls.

The brain receives input from different systems in order to maintain balance: Muscles and joints, such as your feet touching the ground Vision Vestibular system, located in the ear.

Within the ear, there is a series of fluid filled canals and little hairs that detect the position of your head. There are also little crystals within the inner ear that assist in providing input regarding the movement of your head. The reason is often unknown, but these crystals can become dislodged. Therefore, improper signals are sent to your brain.

If the brain is receiving mixed signals, altered balance can occur. During BPPV, the vestibular system is the main source of the improper signal. Maneuvers, such as the Dix-Hallpike, can be performed by your physical therapist or doctor to assist in returning those crystals to their rightful position in the inner ear. This will enable proper signals to be sent to your brain, helping to restore balance.

If you find yourself feeling these symptoms of dizziness or spinning, there are steps you can take to maximize your safety. Sit down immediately if dizziness occurs while standing. Use a cane or assistive device while walking. Ensure you have good lighting, especially when getting up during the night.

Symptom relief can often occur within a few treatments. Although BPPV can reoccur, your physical therapist can teach you management strategies and maneuvers to perform on yourself to assist in controlling your symptoms.

Should you need assistance, contact Purcellville Orthopedic Physical Therapy (; we’d be happy to set a plan in motion to get you back to a healthy and active lifestyle!