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Treatment for Vertigo. Stop Spinning Out of Control

It is amazing what huge problems a small organ in our body can cause! The organ I am talking about is called the vestibular organ and it is housed within our inner ear, inside the temporal bone of the skull. The organ looks a bit like a snail.

The organ sends signals to our brain and detects when we have moved. It also plays a key role in balance and spatial awareness. There is fluid within the organ that move in response to head movements, the moving fluid triggers the nervous system which sends the signal to our brain. We then become aware of that movement and our position in space.

There is a condition called vertigo and directly relates to a problem within the vestibular organ. Vertigo is a spinning sensation. To go deeper; there is a condition called BPPV (benign positional paroxysmal vertigo). This vertigo is highly based on position. Patients will complain of the world spinning when they lay on their right side or bend over as examples.

BPPV is where crystals within the vestibular system become lodged within the semicircular canals where the fluid is at. The crystals are made of calcium carbonate and are normally in the vestibular system, just not in the canals. When the crystals are in the semicircular canals the fluid movement becomes more intense and prolonged; so one can feel as if they are still moving even though they have stopped. Thus the spinning sensation occurs.

Vertigo is a nasty symptom that can be very disabling. Many times people complain of nausea and have vomiting with this condition. The condition can be caused by a few factors such as head trauma, high blood pressure and being sedentary. The condition also very prevalent in people above the age of 65.

To diagnose this condition there is a test called the Dix-Hallpike Maneuver, which puts the patient in a position to elicit vertigo. The examiner can then assess if the patient has nystagmus in this position. Nystagmus is rapid alternating movements of the eyes consisting of a slow and fast phase.

Once the condition is diagnosed as BPPV or positional vertigo the examiner can then perform treatment. One treatment that is highly effective is called the Epley's maneuver. This technique involves moving the crystals out of the semicircular canals and allowing the body to absorb them. The patient is moved from one head position to the next; a total of 4 positions. Each position is held for 30-60 seconds to let the crystals move to the most dependent position in the canal. In the final position the crystal are effectively moved out of the canal.

Often times a patient will feel completely better after only one treatment! It is amazing and the patient is usually quite pleased.


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