So you have been feeling dizzy lately, and your doctor has told you that you have BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), and has given you some medication or an exercise to do. That’s fine, if you do, in fact, have BPPV.
In all likelihood, you do; BPPV accounts for about 75% of all vertigo cases. BPPV is a condition where crystals or debris get dislodged into different parts of your vestibular system (which detects movement and head positioning, and is important for balance), which causes a sensation of movement, even when you are still. This is one common cause of vertigo.
Vertigo, however, has other causes, and can present in different ways. The other causes include, but are not limited to:
- Vestibular dysfunction
- Meniere’s disease
- Central nervous system disorders
- Toxicity (drugs)
- Cervical spine dysfunction and more.
A proper assessment for vertigo should involve an in-depth interview to discuss your symptoms, your aggravating factors, medical history, among other things. The next step is to rule out central or neurological (brain and spinal cord) causes of your symptoms, which can be serious, but are relatively uncommon. This is done with a series of simple tests (along the lines of “close your eyes and touch your nose”), which help to assess your neurological function.
Assuming all of these tests result in a thumbs-up and a smile, you should be then tested for peripheral (meaning areas outside of the brain) vestibular disorders, including BPPV. There are a series of tests that can be performed to diagnose specific issues within the vestibular system, as there are many different forms of peripheral vertigo, and even different forms of BPPV. This means there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosing or treating BPPV, let alone vertigo in general! If you want a bit more info what BPPV is, exactly, and the really weird anatomy behind it, check out this article!
If your peripheral tests come back negative, we then can move on to assessing your neck joint and muscle function, and treating that accordingly, because, believe it or not, your vertigo symptoms may be stemming from a stiff and dysfunctional neck. Treating that issue isn’t quite so simple, but it can be done!
So sometimes, it’s not quite as simple as “you have BPPV”, and doing some exercises and popping some pills. For example, do you have canalithiasis or cupulothiasis? Is your anterior, posterior or horizontal semi-circular canal(s) involved? What’s your proprioception like? Do you have saccadic eye movement or nystagmus? I assure you I am not making those words up – though I will admit to stringing a few long words together if I’m trying to impress someone!
In this case, however, I’m trying to communicate how complicated these conditions can be, and why it takes an experienced and practiced, qualified health professional to assess and treat them! Physiotherapists are generally qualified to treat vestibular conditions, though some have more interest and experience in the area than others.
Call LifeForce health solutions in Golden Grove on 82892800 today to book an appointment with one of our friendly physios to start the process of diagnosing, and ultimately treating your vertigo! Be sure to specify that you are enquiring about vertigo treatment when you call!