The Epley Manoeuvre

by Suw on December 24, 2007

Sounds like it should be the name of a band, but the Epley Manoeuvre is a treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which I’ve had now for the last four months or so. This type of vertigo is caused by little otoconia – bits of debris, made of calcium carbonate crystals – floating about loose in the ear’s semicircular canals. These bump against the hairs in your semicircular canals and send additional messages through the nerves to the brain, confusing it horribly and making you feel dizzy.

My doctor mentioned the Epley Manoeuvre, so I did a bit of a look online and from what I saw, I thought that it would probably be best to get a professional to do it. Friday, I went to see my chiropractor and we went through the manoeuvre, both of us for the first time. It turns out to be pretty simple, really. It’s basically a series of movements that are designed to move the otoconia from the semicircular canals to the vestibule (another bit of the ear) where they can do no harm.

Sitting up straight with your legs in front of you, you turn your head 45 degrees to the affected side, lay down flat, and hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds whilst the vertigo it induces goes away and the otoconia settle down. Then turn your head through 90 degrees towards the other side, holding it at 45 degrees again until the second bout of vertigo goes away. Then continue turning the head, and also the body, until your noise is almost pointing at the floor, and hold. Then in one movement, turn the head straight and sit up, tipping the head forward so your chin’s on your chest. Hold for a few minutes.

We did this three times, and each time the vertigo got slightly less, but it didn’t seem to go away all together. Well, it doesn’t always work straight away, so that wasn’t a surprise, but there was definite and immediate improvement.

Friday night, I went to bed, and for the first time in months, when I laid down I didn’t feel dizzy. When turned over in the middle of the night, I didn’t feel vertigo at all, but there was a teensy bit when I got up in the morning. So Saturday night, before going to bed, I got Kevin to do the manoeuvre again, three times over. By Sunday morning, the vertigo had completely cleared up! All my otoconia must now be safely in my vestibule, where they will hopefully stay.

To be honest, though, I rather wish I’d had the Epley Manoeuvre done months ago, but well, I’ll know what to do if there’s ever a next time.

UPDATE 30 Dec 07: Well, turns out that the Epley Manoeuvre didn’t really cure the vertigo completely, as a few days later it came back. I’ve had Kevin help me do it a couple more times, and that’s helped a little bit, but it has not been as effective as the first time.

Last night, in conversation with my uncle, though, I discovered that vertigo is a bit of a family thing. I didn’t know this, but he’s suffered from vertigo that sounds suspiciously like mine (there are different types, with different causes) for years, and he also told me that my Nan also suffered very badly from vertigo at times. I had no idea. I really hope that this doesn’t mean I’m going to have vertigo for the rest of my life.

Ewan Spence December 25, 2007 at 2:03 pm

That’s great news, sure before would have been great, but a non-dizzy bride is always a good idea 😉 Merry Christmas.

Jay Levitt January 4, 2008 at 1:05 am

I used to have something similar to this, though I didn’t know the name of it. Mine wasn’t positional, though; I’d just be sitting in my chair, and all of a sudden: Whoa, where’d the floor go! Then it was gone as quickly as it came.

Did all sorts of tests, inner ear, MRIs, rotating chair, everything. I was perfectly healthy except that every once in a while, the floor would move.

It disappeared when I got into better shape – and recurred a bit when I developed neck problems. The best I can figure, there are nerves in the neck that, when stimulated, can make you dizzy. I also have all sorts of nerve impingements in general; if I turn my neck too far, my fingers tingle, or my shoulders hurt, things like that. So I could see how the dizziness could be positional.

If you have what I have, the best treatment is myofascial release, trigger point therapy, root nerve blocks, and Active Release Therapy or one of its less-patented cousins (positional release therapy, etc).

Jackie Barras March 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I had the Hallpike test yesterday and am still feeling rough from it. I have had manipulation on my neck which didnt get rid of the dizzyness. I too get dizzy when sitting down which has baffled my GP he still wants to go ahead with the Epley Manoveure I am reluctant bcause of the way I felt after the test.
Any advice would be much appreciated.


Suw March 13, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Jackie, I’m clearly not an expert, but I’d say go for it. It took my chiro two sessions, with some additional work with my now husband, but it cleared up completely just before my wedding! I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

Yes, it does make you feel wobbly whilst it’s being done, but I had immediate relief after the first one, before the vertigo came back a few days later. Second session fixed it immediately, and I’ve had no vertigo at all for over a month. So give it a shot – it can’t hurt!

Ken Roberts October 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I suffered from dizzy spells when lifting my head to look up, and sitting up to get out of bed, and my doctor suggested trying the Epley manoeuvre. I did it at home myself and had immediate results, which have lasted for almost a year. If your symptoms are similar, I would recommend giving it a go. No cost, and hopefully no negative reactions!

Susan Summerhayes October 2, 2008 at 12:22 pm

I’ve just starter having dizzy spells in the last 24 hours, I’ve been to see my doctor today who has told me I’ve got Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo and gave me a pill to pop under my top lip to deslove, no difference yet but that’s only been 4 hours, my doctor gave me a leaflet on BPPV and told me to read, I’ve tried doing the Epley Monoeuvre myself but finding it hard. I will try and get someone to help me. Any info will be a great help as I have been home from work know with two slipped discs and would really like to return to work asap.

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