Benign Paroxysmal Position Vertigo

Benign Paroxysmal Position Vertigo

BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Position Vertigo is a disorder of the vestibular system within the inner ear. BPPV is one of the most common causes of dizziness, with a lifetime prevalence of around 2.4%. Although BPPV is defined as being ‘benign’ meaning not serious or harmful, this condition is extremely debilitating and is certainly something that can be easily treated with a trained Vestibular Physiotherapist!

Benign – Not life threatening

Paroxysmal – Sudden Onset

Positional – Triggered by particular head movements

Vertigo – A false sense of rotation

The vestibular system is an organ located within the inner ear which helps to control balance and eye movements. It communicates with specific areas of our brain via the vestibulocochlear nerve that control steady gaze and coordinate the muscles that keep us in balance.

As you can see in the picture, there are three fluid filled canals which provides information to our brain what direction and the velocity to which our head is moving. BPPV is when calcium crystals dislodge from other areas of the vestibular system and float into these canals.

These crystals then disrupt the flow of fluid within the canals and provide our brain with false information about our head movements, which translates into vertigo and dizziness!

Signs and Symptoms:

– Episodes of vertigo with position changes
– Nystagmus
– Nausea
– Unsteadiness
– Imbalance


Around 50-70% of BPPV is idiopathic meaning an unknown cause. However certain populations have an increased incidence of developing BPPV including:

– Post Head Injury (17%)
– Vestibular Neuritis (15%)
– Migraine sufferers
– Degeneration with age


Functional Health have use of infrared video googles to examine eye movements provoked by different examinations. This gives us the ability to accurately diagnose which canal the crystals are contained in and whether it is free-floating (Canalithiasis) or adhered to a structure in the canal called the cupula (cupulolithisis) enables an accurate diagnosis and therefore increases treatment success.


Dependent upon which canal and which type of BPPV is causing your vertigo, we can effectively treat BPPV with a series of positional manoeuvres. It has been shown that these manoeuvres have a 70-90% success rate within 1-3 sessions of treatment with a trained Physiotherapist.

Services are available at both our Biggera Waters and Broadbeach Practices.