Is Your World Spinning?

Does walking down the aisle of a supermarket make you feel light-headed?

Do you have difficulty reading due to head imbalances?

Do you try to avoid heights?

Does bending-over make you feel dizzy?


If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are potentially experiencing some form of vertigo. Vertigo is the perception of motion in which the individual or their surroundings seem to whirl, generating the sense of dizziness. An important point to clarify is that vertigo is a symptom of another issue, not a condition itself. There are many conditions that may trigger the onset of vertigo, yet the most common cause of the dizziness is a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, better known as BPPV.


Jena Beckett, one of our Physiotherapists here at Leduc Physio, has been treating for over 10 years. She has provided some very helpful information regarding this condition and explained how she is able to treat the problem in clinic.


What is BPPV?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV, the most common cause of vertigo, is caused by peripheral vestibular disorder (meaning that the effects are being relayed from the inner ear and not the brain).  It is most common in older adults. Typically, BPPV causes vertigo and possibly nausea when bending forward, looking up, rolling over in bed, and lying down flat.


What causes BPPV?

 BPPV can come on sPoNtAneOusLY, after head trauma, or after catching a virus or infection.  There are ‘crystals’ called otoconia that become displaced and float around the inner ear. This then causes stimulation to our brain and interprets it as movement.  When we’re not actually moving there’s a {mis-match} of information and vertigo is experienced.


What are common symptoms of BPPV?

Vertigo is a specific feeling that the room or yourself are moving, tilting or spinning. Dizziness is a term used to describe a variety of symptoms such as lightheadedness, unsteadiness, imbalance, rocking or swaying, floating or swimming.  The causes of dizziness are quite varied and can be from other problems like your neck or visual reflexes.


How do Physiotherapists diagnose BPPV?

A Vestibular Physiotherapy Assessment will include discussing the issue with the patient and getting a clear history. We then do a positional technique to assess the presence of BPPV. Specific motions in the eyes during this examination, called Nystagmus, will indicate the presence of BPPV.


How is BPPV treated?

We then use a technique called the Epley Maneuver to treat the BPPV.  The Epley consists of a series of positions that help move the ‘crystals’ within the inner ear to a place where they don’t keep causing stimulation and the vertigo. When attending a Vestibular Assessment, you can expect to complete these positional movements during the initial consultation.  A follow-up visit is generally scheduled to complete further assessment tests which produce too much stimulation all in the first day.  If there are also other vestibular, neck joint or muscular problems in addition to BPPV this will be discussed, and a plan will be made to address these issues.


In conclusion, BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo, presenting with intense dizziness. Although this condition itself is not life threatening, it can place a person in high risk for falls, which could lead to significant injury. BPPV can be a very debilitating condition, limiting your desire to perform usual activities of daily living such as bike riding or simple motions such as rolling over in bed. If you begin to recognize these symptoms, you should seek expert help!

If you have more questions about BPPV, dizziness or vertigo please call our front desk at (780) 980-5443, or send an email to

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