BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo, and it is also one of the easiest to treat. Nevertheless, experiencing vertigo can be scary and incapacitating. Vertigo is the sensation that you are moving or the things around you are moving when actually there is no motion happening. Vertigo can make you nauseated and unable to keep your balance while standing or walking. Below are some frequently asked questions about BPPV and answers that may help you find some relief from it.
Question #1: What does BPPV mean?
BPPV is an acronym for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Even though it is a long name, it is easy to understand when you know what each word means:
- Benign – The word benign means that it is not dangerous to your health.
- Paroxysmal – When something is paroxysmal, it comes on suddenly and reoccurs periodically.
- Positional – Episodes of BPPV are often triggered by a change in head position, such as turning over in bed.
- Vertigo – This is most important word, which indicates that you are experiencing a false spinning or movement sensation.
Question #2: Is BPPV always caused by the same thing?
It is believed that BPPV is caused by tiny calcium crystals that naturally form in the inner ear and have somehow travelled into the wrong part of the ear. The crystals, called otoconia, normally help your ear sense movement and help your body maintain balance. But when the crystals break off and get into the fluid canals, they can disrupt the flow of the inner ear fluid, causing the small hairs in the canals to misread the movement of the fluid. The brain starts receiving mixed signals about balance and movement, and vertigo is the result.
Question #3: Is BPPV a common problem?
As previously mentioned, BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It is most frequently experienced by adults and senior citizens. Children usually do not get BPPV. Approximately 2.4 percent of people will have an episode of BPPV at some point. It is not clear why the otoconia break off and move to the wrong part of the ear, but it has been seen that migraines, head or neck trauma, and inner ear infections can be a precursor to BPPV.
Question #4: What are BPPV symptoms?
The primary symptom is vertigo. Movement of the head, such as bending down to pick up something from the floor, triggers a vertigo episode. Severe vertigo episodes are called drop attacks because the sufferer often loses balance so suddenly that he or she drops to the floor (without losing consciousness). Due to the mixed messages that the brain is receiving and the spinning sensation, people often feel nauseated and may vomit. Trying to stand or walk without falling proves difficult. These symptoms can last just a few seconds or an hour or two. After the initial symptoms have passed, some mild unsteadiness may continue for a while.
Question #5: Does the Epley maneuver help?
The Epley maneuver was developed to help move the otoconia out of the fluid canals of the inner ear where they are causing problems. The maneuver is usually led by a doctor as he or she guides the patient through specific motions of turning or leaning over and to the side. The maneuver may need to be attempted several times because it is often unknown exactly where the loose crystals are located.
Question #6: Can upper cervical chiropractic care help treat vertigo?
Upper cervical chiropractors have been very successful in helping treat and relieve various types of vertigo. Upper cervical chiropractors are specialists who focus on the top two vertebrae in the neck, known as the atlas and the axis. These two bones play a surprising role in the overall health of the body and in cases of vertigo.
The inner ear is located very close to the upper cervical spine. When the atlas and axis vertebrae are not in their proper alignment, they can affect how the inner ear functions. They can also interfere with messages sent from the inner ear to the brain. The brainstem passes through the atlas and axis. When there is a misalignment, the vertebrae can put pressure on the brainstem and prevent it from sending and receiving accurate information gathered from the rest of the body about balance and movement.
In the case of BPPV, it is unknown why the otoconia dislodge and move from their normal location. But as previously mentioned, sometimes migraines, head and neck trauma, and inner ear infections occur prior to BPPV. These conditions can also benefit from upper cervical chiropractic adjustments. If the atlas and axis have become misaligned, due to head and neck trauma or some other reason, they can hinder the necessary flow of blood and cerebral spinal fluid to the brain. Migraines and inner ear issues can be caused by abnormal fluid flow and drainage.
Here at our chiropractic clinic, Back in Action, we treat each vertigo patient as an individual. We do a careful analysis of patient history and symptoms. Using advanced imaging, we are able to see if any misalignments are present in the spine and tailor an adjustment to the specific needs of the patient. Our adjustment techniques are gentle and precise, without the cracking sound that is usually present in regular chiropractic adjustments. Patients often find relief from their vertigo after receiving our care.