Understanding and Treating Positional Vertigo

Vertigo, the sensation of movement when you’re actually stationary, can be a distressing and common experience stemming from various conditions. Interestingly, in certain cases, a physiotherapist may be able to treat your vertigo effectively.

Our nervous system, including the inner ear, plays a crucial role in determining whether we’re in motion or at rest. The vestibulocochlear nerve conveys information about head movement to the brain for processing. However, certain conditions can interfere with this process, leading the brain to misinterpret movement when there is none. Physiotherapists can potentially help with a specific type of vertigo called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

Symptoms of Positional Vertigo

BPPV, commonly known as positional vertigo, triggers dizziness only when the head moves in particular positions or directions. Individuals with BPPV often experience dizziness and nausea when rolling over in bed or looking upwards, accompanied by lightheadedness and balance disturbances. Although BPPV can sometimes occur without any apparent cause, it is frequently observed following head trauma, respiratory infections, or airplane travel, as these events can disrupt the inner ear’s normal functioning.

The Underlying Cause

The symptoms of BPPV can be attributed to a disruption in the signals transmitted by the inner ear’s semi-circular canals to the brain. These canals, arranged in various directions and filled with fluid, respond differently to head movements based on the head’s orientation. Receptors detect these fluid movements’ direction and speed, communicating this information to the brain. However, occasionally, small calcium crystals in the utricle, where the three semi-circular canals converge, can become dislodged and enter the canals, interfering with the fluid and confusing the brain’s interpretation of the signals.

Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with BPPV, your doctor or physiotherapist can guide you through a series of manoeuvres designed to dislodge the calcium crystals and clear them from the semi-circular canal. You may also be instructed to perform exercises to prevent the crystals from returning. Typically, one or two treatments suffice for symptom resolution, but some cases may necessitate additional sessions.

It is essential to consult a medical professional if you suspect you have vertigo, as numerous conditions can cause these symptoms, and an accurate diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment. The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a medical professional for advice on your specific condition.

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