Vertigo is a sensation of the room rotating around you. It is often accompanied by nystagmus, which is a jumping motion of the eyes. Benign positional vertigo is one of the most common vertigo disorders seen by the otolaryngologist and audiologist. This inner ear problem is caused by calcium carbonate crystals floating in the fluid of the semicircular canals.
These crystals originate from a part of the inner ear called the utricle. Causes for crystals to break away from the utricle are: head injuries, reduced blood flow to the utricle, degenerative diseases, and viral infections of the inner ear. When you move your head a certain way, such as looking up or rolling over in bed, the crystals float around causing a brief spinning sensation and torsional nystagmus.
BPPV can be diagnosed by a thorough case history and the presence of nystagmus when placing the patient in a supine position while rotating their head in various ways.
In some cases, positional vertigo will resolve on its own.
Vestibular rehab and positional exercises (i.e. epley maneuver, semont maneuvers, or the log roll) have shown to relocate the crystals and reduce symptoms of BPPV. Our vestibular rehabilitation therapist is able to plan an exercise program for patients so that they may continue treatment at home if needed.