what is positional vertigo?
Vertigo is a false sense that your body is moving. Most of us have felt vertigo as children getting off a merry-go-round. The sensation is often intense but very short. Positional vertigo is a condition of the inner ear and is the most common type of vertigo. This type of vertigo is typically brought on by a change in position. The positions which usually trigger the vertigo are rolling in bed or looking up. This is often accompanied by nausea or vomiting. You may feel unwell for several hours after an attack.
what goes wrong?
Positional vertigo is caused by a problem in the inner ear, the organ responsible for feeling motion and helping to keep your balance. The inner ear also helps keep your eyes on an object when you are moving your head. Very small position and movement sensors in the inner ear are made with crystals glued to a bed of gel. The crystals are affected by gravity and give your brain information about position and acceleration. For various reasons, some of the crystals can become dislodged from their bed of gel and float around the inner ear. Often they get caught in the circular canals of the inner ear, a place they should not be. When the crystals find themselves in the canals, they stimulate sensors inappropriately, causing vertigo. When the movement stops, the vertigo will usually stop 15-30 seconds later.
how is the diagnosis made?
Positional vertigo is diagnosed from a thorough history and by performing special movement tests designed to reproduce the vertigo. A doctor or physiotherapist is able to determine where the crystals are, by seeing which positions reproduce the vertigo and by observing your eyes for abnormal movements.
what is the treatment?
The treatment involves a series of movements which allow the crystals to move back where they belong. The cure rate is 95% with an average of 2-3 treatments. It is a very safe procedure when performed by trained physiotherapists. You may be asked to complete simple exercises at home following the treatment, which assist in moving/keeping crystals out of the canals.