Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo and Dizziness

Feeling dizzy? This can often be a sign of a condition treatable by your physical therapist. One of the more well known and most common causes of dizziness is from a peripheral vestibular disorder called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV causes the brain to interpret your changes in position as rapid or unsteady, and thus produces a sense of spinning. Though this disease is relatively harmless, BPPV has been correlated with a higher risk of falling in elderly patients who are diagnosed with the condition. Research conducted shows that an individual with BPPV are more than twice as likely to experiences falls resulting in fractures2. The good news is BPPV is easily treatable once correctly diagnosed!

The first step to effectively treating BPPV is recognizing the common characteristics. Common complaints from patients with BPPV are difficulty with rolling over in bed, showering, changing a lightbulb, and other activities that require constant head movements in relation to gravity. When patients describe their symptoms, it will be a sudden onset of "dizziness" lasting 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Though each person's symptoms can last varying durations of time, it will be important to elaborate on the type of "dizziness" you are experiencing. When talking to your primary therapist, try to use one of the three following words to described your dizziness: faint, unsteady, or spinning3. This will help your therapist interpret where your symptoms are coming from. It should be noted, that "spinning" is a true sense of vertigo and is the most closely related to BPPV.

For some people, it can take just one session with your therapist before you feel back to your normal self. Contact a Strive Physical Therapist today to learn more about BPPV treatment and how we can help you.


  1. Kollén, L., Frändin, K., Möller, M., Olsén, M. F., & Möller, C. (2012). Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a common cause of dizziness and unsteadiness in a large population of 75-year-olds. Aging clinical and experimental research, 24(4), 317-323.
  2. Liao W L, Chang T P, Chen H J, Kao C H. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is associated with an increased risk of fracture: a population-based cohort study. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015;45(5):406–412.
  3. Walter, J. Vestibular Rehabilitation: Vestibular Disorders.[Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from
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