A couple of weeks ago, I was at an early morning business meeting with a variety of local business owners. At this meeting, we ate a light breakfast and were able to share with the group what our businesses offer briefly. When it was my turn to speak, I discussed the numerous services we provide at Freedom to patients of all ages. I concluded by sharing that we are capable of treating common causes of dizziness – specifically, a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, usually referred to as ‘BPPV’ or ‘Vertigo.’ The reaction I received from the group was ultimately one of surprise, as many are familiar with physical therapists treating typical aches and pains, but not dizziness

Dizziness is one of my favorite conditions to treat because it can have an extremely positive, and quick, impact on the patient’s quality of life. Many patients presenting with dizziness tell me that they “feel like the room is spinning” or that they are “riding on a carousel” even though they are sitting perfectly still. However, after a series of positioning techniques, the patient is usually able to walk out without these debilitating symptoms.

So how does this happen? There is a structure located in the inner ear called the ‘utricle’ which helps to provide information to the brain regarding your head position, specifically with side to side tilting of the head. To do this job the utricle relies, in part, on tiny crystals. Occasionally these crystals, due to several causes, can come detached and fall into one of 3 semicircular canals within the inner ear. The semicircular canals also communicate messages to the brain regarding head positions and are therefore crucial for allowing us to balance. In short, if crystals fall into one of the three canals they can continue moving, even though your head maybe still. This communicates a message to your brain that your body is moving even though you are still. Hence, the dizziness and other unpleasant side effects.

To fix this, a therapist will use the help of gravity. By positioning the head in specific ways, gravity will pull the crystals down, and ultimately out, of the involved semicircular canal. Once this is accomplished, the body can dispose of the loose crystals appropriately, and the patient no longer has symptoms.

If you notice you have dizziness, particularly with head turns, but that keeping your head still resolves your symptoms, there is a chance you have BPPV. But don’t worry, you don’t have to suffer from this! If you are concerned with dizziness, I would strongly consider coming into our clinic for an evaluation. Our skilled therapists are capable of assessing which ear is implicated and administering the necessary techniques to having you feeling back to normal in no time.

Austin Burlage, DPT graduated from Concordia University – Wisconsin, with honors in 2018. He gained experience through a diverse background of clinical experiences particularly involving treatment of the shoulder and knee. He is especially passionate regarding the treatment of vestibular disorders resulting from concussions or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).