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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

Woman with vertigo suffering from dizziness

How often have you heard someone say that they, or someone they know, has ‘vertigo’? Many people do not realize that vertigo is a SYMPTOM of a condition, and is NOT A DIAGNOSIS itself. What this means is that if you have vertigo, or dizziness, the cause must first be identified before it can be treated properly. Though there are many causes of dizziness, I want to focus on the most common cause, which is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). You may know this condition as ‘crystals in the ears’ or displaced crystals.

BPPV occurs when some of the calcium carbonate crystals normally embedded within the inner ear are dislodged and migrate into one or more of the fluid-filled areas of the ear where they are not supposed to be. If these particles accumulate here, they can interfere with the fluid movement that is used to sense head motion, sending false signals to the brain, causing dizziness.  The spinning sensation experienced with BPPV is triggered by movement of your head, and is a short-lived dizziness (less than one minute). Specifically, the most common movements that provoke the dizziness include:

1)    Rolling over in bed

2)    Bending over

3)    Tilting your head to look upwards or

4)    Fast head movements in general

A health professional skilled in management of dizziness disorders, such as an audiologist, physician, or a Physiotherapist such as myself, who have an interest in this area can complete an assessment for BPPV. This assessment includes a conclusive medical history as well as performing test(s) that involve a manoeuvre of your head and body. This test is a deliberate attempt to displace the crystals and provoke your symptoms. If this is so, we can confidently diagnose and treat your BPPV. However, if your history and/or the test manoeuvre are inconclusive for BPPV, we will instead refer you to an appropriate source to differentiate your cause of dizziness. It is important to know that BPPV does not affect your hearing, and does not involve neurological symptoms such as numbness, trouble speaking or coordinating your movements. If you have any of these additional symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

After a successful diagnosis, we will treat your BPPV by using a series of very specific head movements that help to guide the crystals back to where they are supposed to be. Many studies have been done regarding the effectiveness of treatment for BPPV, and have shown 90% resolution within 1-3 treatments.  If you, or someone you know may be suffering with BPPV, please contact our Corner Brook clinic for an assessment and treatment of this condition.


Natasha Normore (BScK, MScPT, Reg PT)


  • by Health and Performance
  • posted at 2:49 pm
  • July 24, 2017