One of the most common causes of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Many with this condition have found relief for the sudden sensation of spinning through an at-home exercise program known as an Epley maneuver.
What Is BPPV?
BPPV leads to brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness, which are triggered by changes in the position of your head. This occurs when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you roll over or sit up in bed.
Symptoms of BPPV include:
- Sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning
- Loss of balance
This type of vertigo is caused by a problem within your inner ear. Inside your inner ear is your semicircular canals, which detect motion and send that information to your brain. Next to the semicircular canals is the utricle. It contains calcium crystals that aid in the detection of movement. These crystals can detach from the utricle and flow into the semicircular canals, where they will send incorrect signals to the brain about your position; this causes the sensation of spinning known as vertigo.
In 1980, Dr. John Epley developed a series of movements to dislodge the calcium crystals from the semicircular canals. What came to be known as the Epley maneuver, the exercise succeeded in moving the crystals back into the utricle.
Dr. Epley designed the movements to be performed by medical providers. Over the years, experts have figured out how to safely teach patients how to complete them without help in their own homes.
Home Epley Maneuver
The process for at-home Epley maneuver is simple.
Start by sitting on a bed and turning your head 45 degrees to the right (if you have a problem in your right ear) or to the left (if you have a problem in your left ear). Quickly lie back with your shoulders on the pillow and your head reclined, making sure to keep your head turned. Stay in this position for 30 seconds. Turn your head 90 degrees in the other direction, without raising it. Wait another 30 seconds. Turn your head and body another 90 degrees toward the bed, waiting 30 more seconds. Sit up.
Before completing this exercise at home, your doctor will review the procedure with you in the office. We also suggest watching a few videos to help you visualize the whole exercise.
BPPV symptoms will typically go away immediately following the procedure. If your symptoms return, perform the exercise again.