the-facts-about-bppvOne of the most prevalent causes of vertigo is a condition called BPPV.  Vertigo can be a very alarming experience in which you have the false sensation that you are spinning or that your surroundings are spinning.  With BPPV being as common as it is, bringing clarity on some of the most frequently asked questions about the condition can help you find the right options for you to get relief.

Question #1: What does the acronym BPPV mean?

BPPV is an abbreviation that stands for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.  This may seem like a complicated, lengthy title, but it is fairly simple to understand once each word is broken down:


Even though BPPV symptoms can be intense, the leading term benign specifies that it is not life-threatening.


This is a reference to the frequency of this condition.  The way that episodes of BPPV tend to happen is in short, sudden waves.


For BPPV sufferers, certain head positions or movements are what trigger an episode.


The primary symptom of BPPV is vertigo, which is a false sensation of spinning.

Question #2: Why does BPPV happen?

BPPV is a condition that originates in your inner ear, where there are crystals of calcium carbonate called otoconia that have the important function of helping your body sense motion and keep your balance.  Usually otoconia stay embedded in a part of the inner ear called the utricle. But in cases of BPPV, these crystals get dislodged and then travel to one of the fluid-filled canals where they should not be. The normal movement of this fluid, called endolymph, provides the brain with information on the way that your body is positioned in space.  When the migrating crystals disrupt the normal movement of endolymph, it can lead to the sending of inaccurate signals to the brain and cause vertigo episodes. The simple act of rolling over in bed can be the trigger for someone who has BPPV.

Question #3: How prevalent is BPPV?

Approximately 2.4 percent of people will have a bout of BPPV sometime in their life.  It is more common in adults, especially in seniors. It is very rare for children to experience BPPV.  For most cases of BPPV there is no clear cause; however, there have been some connections made to migraines, trauma, and inner ear infections.

Question #4: What symptoms are the most common for BPPV sufferers

Above all else, the most common and extreme symptom of BPPV are severe vertigo episodes.  The suddenness of some vertigo episodes can cause a person to fall to the floor, giving them the name “drop attacks”.  The whirling or spinning sensations that commonly come with the vertigo episodes cause many BPPV sufferers to experience nausea or vomiting as well.  Losing your balance or feeling unsteady on your feet are also associated with this condition. BPPV symptoms can be very intense and can last from just a few seconds to several minutes or more.  After the most intense part of the episode has passed, residual dizziness and instability may continue. Generally, the first vertigo BPPV attack is the worst and the ones that follow are milder.

Question #5: How does the Epley maneuver help someone with BPPV?

One of the more popular relief care suggested is the Epley maneuver. This is a series of specific head movements that use ranges of motion to help guide the loose calcium crystals back to where they should be. These maneuvers can be successful in relieving BPPV symptoms, depending on where the calcium crystals are located.  Getting the guidance of a healthcare provider that is well trained in assisting with this condition is recommended to ensure you are performing the relief accurately and to check if there are other underlying health factors.

Question #6: What role can Upper Cervical Chiropractic play in relieving vertigo symptoms?

More and more people who suffer from vertigo have found relief by seeking the help of a special niche within the chiropractic profession.  Upper cervical chiropractic care specifically focuses on the uppermost vertebrae in the spine, ensuring their proper positioning and spinal health.  A misalignment of the upper cervical spine can have a domino effect of implications on your body’s ability to function normally. Here is why this area of the spine is relevant to those who have vertigo:

  1. The upper cervical spine is located very close to the inner ear, which means a misalignment of the atlas can change the way that the inner ear functions and communicates with the brain by sending inaccurate signals on how your body is positioned in space.
  2. The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae that make up the upper cervical spine house and protect the brainstem.  This puts the brainstem in a very vulnerable place if these vertebrae do misalign, which would disrupt its primary function of sorting and integrating the information received about your body’s position. This can cause dysfunctions in your brain’s ability to respond properly to your body’s positioning and affect your ability to maintain your sense of balance.

An atlas misalignment can alter the way the inner ear functions and it can even irritate the brainstem, leading to abnormal messaging.  The goal of our practice is to identify if the atlas is misaligned and to follow with an appropriate, gentle adjustment so it returns to its normal position.

After the atlas is aligned, your body’s normal functions are restored naturally over time.  The longer the corrected alignment holds, the better your body can function, heal, and remain in proper function.  With upper cervical care, adjustments are only given when necessary, making it a natural, non-invasive, non-painful way to obtain long-lasting relief from vertigo and other related symptoms.




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