Why Is the Room Spinning?


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo. This condition often leads to symptoms of room spinning, dizziness, unsteadiness and nausea. Most often, the symptoms onset suddenly, triggered by changes in head or body position. The symptoms can last anywhere from mere seconds to minutes and may be severe. This condition can be considered serious due to the risk of falling.

BPPV is caused by otoconia, often referred to as “crystals,” which are displaced in the endolymph (inner ear fluid) in the semi-circular canals of the vestibular apparatus. The semi-circular canals detect rotational movement of the head and are named for their location in the anterior, posterior, or horizontal canal. Eye movement, or nystagmus, is also often specific to anterior, posterior, or horizontal canal, changing what is, or can be, seen with different head positions. Some other common causes of BPPV can be head trauma, viral infections, or migraines.

BPPV can be assessed by a primary physician, ENT specialist, neurologist, or physical therapist. Testing for the condition ranges from oculomotor examinations, balance testing, positional testing, cervical spine screening, diagnostic tests including CAT scan, MRI, hearing tests, and VNG tests.

Treatment for this condition includes Canalith Repositioning Techniques, medications, activity modifications, and vestibular exercises. Your therapist may educate you in balance exercises, gaze stabilization techniques, and home management techniques including Habituation exercises.

If you experience symptoms that may be associated with BPPV, consider visiting your local Foothills Sports Medicine clinic for an assessment. Though there is no cure for BPPV, treatment is usually successful and readily available.


Erica Reali

PT | Ahwatukee Location