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Why is the Room Spinning?

Brad Banker, PT, DPT, NCS

Why is the room spinning? Everybody deals with it, so I should too, right?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV for short) is the most common cause of dizziness in older adults. It is characterized by a sensation of movement, usually spinning or rotation, with specific head or body motions. The most common situation is a sensation of spinning when looking up, such as looking into a high cabinet, looking down such as tying your shoes, or rolling over in bed. It usually will start several seconds after getting into the provoking position and then last less than two minutes, mostly commonly 20 seconds or so.

This is caused by displacement of crystals that are naturally in another part of your inner ear called the utricle or saccule. They end up in the canals of your inner ear and when your head or body goes into the provoking position, stimulate hair cells that tell your brain that you are spinning when you are not. There are three canals on each side, and the most commonly affected is the posterior canal. The problem can also occur in the horizontal or anterior canals, but these versions are less likely.

The treatment for this problem is simple, and proven to be very effective. It is called a Canalith Repositioning Maneuver (CRM) or sometimes referred to as an Epley maneuver for the most common version of BPPV. Research has shown that although you can do treatments yourself at home, treatments performed by our educated and experienced clinicians are typically more effective and may alleviate your symptoms in as little as one visit. The best thing to do if you have symptoms like these is to be evaluated by one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy who can test you for this condition and help rule out other issues.

The majority of insurances in North Carolina allow access to physical therapy without a MD referral, so contact us today if your world is spinning.