Approximately 80 percent of people who do the canalith repositioning exercise experience less dizziness caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, one of the most common types of vertigo. BPPV produces intense instances of dizziness when you move your head. Since moving your head is a natural action that is hard to limit, working to control BPPV with canalith repositioning is a common choice.
Approximately 20 percent of people who experience dizziness do so because of BPPV. It happens when small particles from a canal in your inner ear break loose and end up in other canals of your ear. These particles, also called canaliths or otoconia, consist of calcium carbonate. A head injury, infection or simple degeneration due to aging are all reasons why these particles might come loose.
Canalith repositioning exercises move these ear particles back into your inner ear. Once there, the particles may dissolve, be broken up or readhere to the membrane in your ear that they broke off of. They might also simply stay in the canal, where they won't cause dizziness or other symptoms.
Two similar procedures for repositioning ear particles may be done in an office or at home, and they both involve moving your head and body. The Epley maneuver, or the canalith repositioning procedure, is favored in the United States over the Semont maneuver, which involves fast movements. it is often done by a doctor, but can be done at home too.
During the Epley maneuver, you move your head at certain angles so that the particles move too. Sit on a bed and then lie down quickly onto your back. Turn your head 45 degrees toward the symptomatic side. After 30 to 60 seconds, turn your head to the other side. Wait 30 to 60 seconds. Then, roll onto your side in the direction your head is looking holding your head where it was. Since you are on your side, that means your head is at a 45-degree angle down, looking at the bed. Lie on your side for 30 seconds.
Although a canalith repositioning procedure is easy enough to do at home, instruction from a medical professional are highly recommended to avoid injury. A neck or back injury is one risk of performing the canalith procedure incorrectly. You may also experience side effects, such as nausea, lightheadedness and dizziness. Another risk is that the particles might move into the wrong ear canal, leading to more vertigo. Before doing any canalith exercises, consult with your doctor.
- American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery: Canalith Repositioning Procedures (CRPs)
- Northwestern Univerity, Timothy C. Hain, MD: Canalith Repositioning for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: Mechanisms and Diagnosis
- Vestibular Disorders Association: Canalith Repositioning Procedure—for Treatment of BPPV