Vertigo treatment that uses simple head movements are called canalith repositioning. Canalith repositioning is effective in treating vertigo caused from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is caused when tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear dislodge and land in the ear’s rotation sensors, that detect motion and gravity. BBPV is one of the most common causes of sudden, intense vertigo.
The canalith repositioning procedure is a series of head movements that use gravity to move the calcium crystals out of the sensing tubes and into another chamber of the inner ear, where they’re safely reabsorbed.
Canalith repositioning has been proven to be 85% effective. Relief from vertigo happens with the first treatment in many cases, but sometimes it needs to be repeated. The procedure can be done at home. Of course, it is recommended the first procedure should be done by a medical professional, due to certain risks involved.
- Neck or back injury
- Movement of the particles into a canal which could continue to cause vertigo
- Side effects, including feelings of nausea, dizziness and light-headedness
With that being said, I do this procedure at home when I need to and I have never had it done by a doctor. I have suffered from severe vertigo with hearing loss for almost a year. Hearing tests, multiple allergy medications and nothing worked until I had tubes put in my ears. As soon as the tubes came out, the problem started all over again. I had tubes put in my ears again. This time, it worked for three years.
BPPV is a chronic problem for me. Is it a symptom related to fibromyalgia? Possibly. It is something I have to be vigilant about -allergy medication and using a Neti pot every day is a must. Repositioning exercises are another tool in my arsenal. I have also started treating the trigger points that cause dizziness, vertigo, inner ear problems, etc. You can read about the trigger points that cause dizziness, here.
My son told me about canalith repositioning after his doctor performed the procedure on him. His vertigo stopped immediately and he was symptom-free by the next day. After learning how to do the procedure, I tried it myself. It worked for me too.
According to the American Academy of Neurology, there is not enough evidence to determine that people who treat themselves with canalith repositioning maneuvers at home respond as well as when it’s done by a doctor or therapist. However, there seems to be little harm in trying this kind of self-treatment.
Three Vertigo Treatments Using Simple Head Movements
The Epley maneuver is the most well-known canalith repositioning procedure. During this treatment, specific head movements lead to movement of the loose crystals (canaliths) within the inner ear. By repositioning these crystals, they cause less irritation to the inner ear and symptoms can resolve.
Below are instructions for vertigo that comes from your left ear (If the vertigo comes from your right ear, reverse these instructions).
- Sit on the edge of your bed. Turn your head 45 degrees to the left. Place a pillow under you so when you lie down, it rests between your shoulders rather than under your head.
- Quickly lie down, face up, with your head on the bed (still at the 45-degree angle). The pillow should be under your shoulders. Wait 30 seconds (for any vertigo to stop).
- Turn your head half-way (90 degrees) to the right without raising it. Wait 30 seconds.
- Turn your head and body on its side to the right, so you’re looking at the floor. Wait 30 seconds.
- Slowly sit up, but remain on the bed a few minutes.
In this video, Dr. Edward Cho of House Clinic demonstrates the Epley Maneuver for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This video demonstrated the technique for right-sided BPPV.
The half somersault (Foster) maneuver was introduced by Dr. Carol Foster in 2012. Dr. Foster states that her half-somersault maneuver is not as effective as the Epley maneuver, but patients prefer it anyway.
You put your head upside down like you are going to do a somersault. Then wait for the dizziness to end then raise your head to back level. Then wait again for the dizziness to end and then sit back quickly.
In this video, Dr. Foster explains how to treat vertigo by showing you the maneuver to treat your own symptoms at home.
The Brandt-Daroff exercise is effective in relieving symptoms of BPPV and possibly other conditions causing vertigo. The exercise can help your body get used to the confusing signals that are causing your vertigo. Symptoms sometimes go away during an exercise period. More often, improvement occurs gradually over a period of weeks or months. Do multiple repetitions of the exercise at least twice a day.
To do the Brandt-Daroff exercise:
- Start in an upright, seated position
- Move into the lying position on one side with your nose pointed up at a 45-degree angle
- Remain in this position for about 30 seconds or until the vertigo subsides
- Then move back to the seated position and wait 30 seconds
- Repeat on the other side
This video demonstrates Brandt-Daroff Exercise:
The canalith repositioning procedure is the fastest, easiest way to cure BPPV, the most common cause of vertigo. Most of the time, the CRP is an effective treatment for vertigo. But there is a high recurrence rate. It’s common for the condition to return within the first year. If the condition does return, then a repeat of the canalith repositioning procedure can be used. It may be necessary to repeat the procedure several times to relieve your symptoms.