Vertigo, Dizzy, BPPV? Time to See your Physical Therapist

By: admin Published: September 7, 2020


by Deborah Bodin, PT

Wake Up Spinning?

Did you wake up one morning and feel like the room was spinning when you tried to get out of bed? Did this make you feel like you might throw up? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. This sensation is called vertigo and it is very common–it is experienced by 40% of US adults in their lifetime.

dizzy person

It is likely that you have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (a.k.a. BPPV) as it is the most common cause of vertigo.  Almost 1 in every 10 older adults (75 or older) has BPPV.  This is important because BPPV increases your chance of experiencing a dangerous fall up to 12 times.

Now for some good news! BPPV is very treatable with physical therapy. Many times your current symptoms can be resolved in one or two physical therapy sessions.

What is BPPV?


anatomy of inner ear

There are 3 semicircular canals and 2 balance organs in each ear.

  • Benign: not life-threatening
  • Paroxysmal: recurrent, sudden, intense symptoms
  • Positional: related to a change in the position of the ear
  • Vertigo: sensation of rotation or spinning

BPPV is a problem where “crystals” (actually small pieces of calcium carbonate) break loose from where they normally belong in your inner ear. They get stuck in a part of your inner ear where they are not supposed to be. This can be related to a blow to the head, recent illness, or, more commonly, no reason at all.

When the crystals are in the wrong place, a short, often intense, sensation of dizziness called vertigo can occur with a change in your body’s position. The most common activities that cause vertigo are: rolling over in bed, getting out of bed, bending forward, or looking up.

What are the symptoms of BPPV?


Symptoms of BPPV include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo – the sense that you or the room is spinning
  • Loss of balance or unsteadiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What can physical therapists do?

The physical therapists at CoreBalance Therapy have specialized training in the assessment and treatment of dizziness.  They will take a detailed history of your symptoms that may include:

  • when they started
  • what you were doing when they began
  • how long your dizziness lasts
  • what makes it worse/better
  • other recent illnesses or injuries that may be contributing to your symptoms

To evaluate for BPPV your therapist will be looking at how your eyes move when you are both sitting still and when your head is moving or you are changing position.  Special video goggles may be used to record how your eyes move.  The testing involving putting you in a variety of positions is designed to recreate your symptoms to help your therapist decide what maneuver is appropriate for treatment of your BPPV.

Physical therapy evaluation is also checking for other possible causes of your symptoms. Dizziness can be caused by many other issues and if your therapist does not think that BPPV is your problem, they may offer you different physical therapy treatment exercises or refer you to another medical specialist.

How long does it take to feel better?

BPPV is treated by a series of maneuvers designed to put the crystals back where they belong.  This is usually effective in a few treatment sessions. As the crystals move back to where they belong, you may experience your familiar symptoms. Your therapist expects this and will help you get through them.

What happens if I don’t do anything?

If you do nothing, the symptoms of BPPV can sometimes decrease or resolve without any treatment; this can take only a few days or up to several months. In general, it is not recommended to leave this condition untreated. Falls, imbalance and depression are more common in individuals with untreated BPPV.  There are some medications that may decrease your acute dizziness symptoms, but they don’t fix the problem and may lead to worsening of your symptoms if taken long term.

How effective is treatment?

Physical Therapy maneuvers are very effective at eliminating your current episode of BPPV and, many times, it only takes a few treatment visits.  Your therapist can also teach you how to self-manage any future episodes if your BPPV returns. We understand how frustrating it is when vertigo occurs and we want to get you back to your life as quickly as possible!

Call CoreBalance Therapy to Schedule Your Visit with your PT to Treat Your BPPV Today!

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Make Jay Do It In A Dress!

By: admin Published: November 6, 2012

by Jay McCallum, PT, DPT, OCS


Help Make Jay Do It In A Dress!

I was turned on to the DoItInADress charity last month while attending a conference in Portland on pain neuroscience (that’s a completely separate blog post, by the way…). Our presenter, one Lorimer Moseley, put this video up at the end of the second day.  It’s a very compelling look at the life a girl living in poverty in Sierra Leone (and many other under-developed countries) faces when she turns the ripe old age of 12.  In short, the vast majority end up either married or in prostitution, never finish school, have their own children soon after and the cycle repeats.

Lorimer went on to tell us that he is active with a charity group called ‘Do It In A Dress’, the purpose of which is to support keeping girls in school, targeting again Sierra Leone (it’s a small charity), but with partnerships with other organizations in Africa.  You can read more about this great organization here.  He then threw the gauntlet down to the conference attendees – if we raised $1500 for this cause before the course started the next morning, he would teach the last day of the course in a schoolgirl dress.

The conference attendees contributed over $6000 that night, and Lorimer was true to his word.  Here’s a picture of him with Amy and I, just to prove it (and so you can see the adorable dress!).

Jay, Lorimer, and Amy in Portland

So, I believe that if a room full of PTs can raise six grand in about 12 hours, then surely patients and friends of our clinic can manage a thousand in a week.  And if you do, I’m going to treat patients in a dress all day on Wednesday November 14th.  It’ll be a nice gingham dress, a bit like Lorimer’s, though I don’t know what color yet.

So if you want to make me have cold legs for a day and contribute to a great cause, please take moment to visit  And thanks again to all of you.

Warm regards,

Jay McCallum, PT, DPT

Owner, CoreBalance Therapy LLC

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Treating Low Back Pain is Not One Size Fits All

By: admin Published: March 30, 2012

By Lauren Shafer PT, DPT

We have a significantly high incidence of low back pain (LBP) in our society, and it accounts for over 50% of complaints in a physical therapy office. There is a plethora of research investigating the most effective interventions for LBP, however, the evidence remains largely inconclusive on how to best treat it.

One proposed explanation for the lack of consistent evidence is that it is commonly treated as a homogenous condition, meaning, it is assumed all back pain is the same. Leading researchers in physical therapy are finding that all low back pain is not the same, and each person and episode needs to be evaluated and treated differently.

If you’ve been trying one approach to managing your back pain that doesn’t seem to be helping, there may be a reason why.

Currently, the literature suggests four subcategories of LBP, which all require a somewhat different approach to treatment. The four categories are: Manipulation, Stabilization, Specific Exercise and Traction. Thus far, the Manipulation category has been the most extensively researched, so I will begin here.

Manipulation is defined as a high-velocity low-amplitude thrust that is applied to the spine. Current studies show that a person who reports recent onset of symptoms (less than 16 days) and who does not have symptoms radiating past the knee is highly likely (95%) to have at least a 50% reduction in symptoms with manipulation. There is a slightly increased chance of success (97%) if that person also meets two other criteria involving hip mobility and low fear avoidance. When the specific factors are not present, the likelihood of success reduces to 9%.

What’s more, the evidence now suggests that treating an episode of back pain in that early 16 day window reduces the likelihood that a patient goes on to develop chronic lower back pain.  So please call or email us if you have an acute episode of back pain so we can get you on the right track quickly!

I’ll be posting blogs on the other treatment categories over the next few weeks, so please stay tuned!   And remember, no matter how long your back has been bothering you, there’s a lot that our expert physical therapists can do to help.

Call or e-mail CoreBalance to schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist so that we can determine the best approach for you!


[email protected]

Conditions We Evaluate & Treat

By: admin Published: November 1, 2011
  • Back & Neck Pain
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Incontinence
  • Dizziness & Imbalance

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