Are There Rocks Loose in My Head?

Have you ever woken up and sat up in bed only to feel as if the room is spinning rapidly around you whirling you into a state of nausea and disequilibrium? Where did this come from? What happened last night that brought you into this unwanted tilt-a-whirl? These sensations can be explained simply, you have rocks loose in your head.  No, I am not implying that you’re crazy, but these loose ‘rocks’ cause a common vestibular impairment called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).


What is BPPV?

Let’s start simply by defining these four words:

-Benign: Not harmful in effect

-Paroxysmal: Intensification of symptoms

-Positional: of, or relating to, or determined by position

-Vertigo: a sensation of whirling or loss of balance

Based on these definitions, BPPV is a non-harmful intensification of whirling, spinning, or loss of balance that occurs with a change of position.


What are the symptoms of BPPV?

Like with all other diseases, injuries and impairments every person’s symptoms are different however, these are common symptoms of BPPV:


-A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving

-Loss of Balance or Unsteadiness




When and Where do these symptoms occur?

Put simply, these symptoms can occur anytime there is a change in a person’s position. Common position changes that increase symptoms include:

-Lying down in bed

-Rolling over in bed

-Sitting up in bed

-Bending over

-Looking up

-Quick head movements

-Going from sitting to standing

Who gets BPPV?

BPPV does not discriminate; both men and women can experience episodes of BPPV. However, you are more likely to get BPPV due to the following

-Head Injury/Trauma

-Ear surgery

-40 years or older

-Recent ear infection or inflammation of the vestibular nerve (vestibular neuritis)


How do you get BPPV? (Refer to Picture Below)

BPPV occurs when Calcium Carbonate crystals (otoconia), which are a normal part of our anatomy, break off of a gelatinous membrane in one of the organs of balance located in the inner ear called the Utricle. These crystals collect and settle in one of the semi circular canals.

Is BPPV Treatable?

Yes! BPPV is treatable with physical therapy. Here at Holland Physical Therapy we perform an extensive examination and evaluation of your symptoms and test for BPPV along with other vestibular disorders. When a client tests positive for BPPV, they can be treated right onsite with a technique to reposition the displaced crystals back to the Utricle. The following image demonstrates both the maneuver and the repositioning of the crystals within the inner ear.

If you are suffering from these symptoms or have further questions about BPPV, please come in to see us at Holland Physical Therapy for an evaluation and treatment!

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