If you've recently begun to suffer periodic bouts of dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and "the spins," you may have vertigo: a wide range of potential conditions that manifest in a feeling of constant movement even while still. Although temporary vertigo can be caused by something as simple as an inner ear infection or a change in your glasses prescription, chronic or long-term vertigo is usually the result of loose crystals in the ear, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Without treatment, this issue may not resolve on its own. Read on to learn more about how physical therapy may be able to help you manage the symptoms and side effects of BPPV.

What Is BPPV?

Older women are at a slightly higher risk of developing this condition, which can sometimes be debilitating. With the passage of time, tiny crystals form in the fluid-filled canals of the inner ear. At some point, some of these crystals may become dislodged, much like kidney stones, and travel through your inner ear to disrupt the way fluid transmits sounds and the sensation of movement. For some BPPV sufferers, even the slightest head motion can trigger a crippling bout of vertigo, while those with only mild BPPV may notice vertigo only when exercising or driving.

Diagnosing BPPV is usually performed through an in-office examination. By tracking eye movement as a patient's head moves from side to side, doctors can determine (with some precision) where in the ear the trouble-causing crystals are located. 

Treating BPPV Through Physical Therapy

Because surgically removing these crystals can risk permanent damage to the delicate components of the inner ear, most physicians prefer to resolve BPPV through physical therapy alone. By performing various balance maneuvers, you'll be able to redirect these crystals to their origin, resolving your vertigo symptoms. Depending on where your crystals are located, you may need to spend some time on an inversion table, performing yoga maneuvers, or looking at pictures to try to re-train your eye movements. 

But those who have developed BPPV once are at higher risk of symptom recurrence, so it's important to seek out preventive exercises and therapies to ensure your crystals don't dislodge again. You may want to continue physical therapy for a period of time after your BPPV has resolved or talk to your therapist about some at-home exercises you can do each week to reduce the chance that your BPPV will return.

For more information on physical therapy in your area, contact your local medical office today.