What is an Epley maneuver?
The Epley maneuver, also known as the canalith repositioning maneuver or particle repositioning maneuver, is a series of exercises used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). The goal of the Epley maneuver is to try to reposition the crystals in a person’s ear that are causing symptoms such as dizziness and nausea.
This treatment can be performed by a doctor in a clinic setting or at home by the patient who is experiencing symptoms of vertigo.
Who is a candidate for an Epley maneuver?
Patients who have been diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo may find symptom relief after the Epley maneuver.
If you are experiencing vertigo that is caused by conditions other than BPPV, the Epley maneuver may not be appropriate for you.
Risks associated with Epley maneuver
There are few, if any, risks associated with the Epley maneuver.
What to expect during an Epley maneuver
If your doctor is performing the Epley maneuver, the steps he or she will follow may include:
- Ask you to extend your legs out in front of you while sitting on an exam table.
- Rotate your head at a 45-degree angle toward the side of the body where you are experiencing the worst vertigo.
- Quickly push you back so you are lying with your shoulder blades touching the table.
- Position your head so it is facing the side of the body where you are experiencing the worst vertigo — at a 30-degree angle and lifted slightly off the table.
- Hold you in position for up to two minutes until your dizziness subsides.
- Rotate your head 90 degrees in the other direction until it is approximately 30 degrees away from the table again.
- Hold you in position for up to two minutes until the dizziness stops.
- Roll you onto your side so that the side experiencing the worst vertigo is facing upward.
- Hold this position for up to two minutes until the dizziness stops.
- Resume seated position.
- Repeat the entire process as many as three times, until you experience symptom relief.
Recovery from an Epley maneuver
After the Epley maneuver is performed, your doctor will recommend avoiding any movements that could dislodge the crystals. Movements that could cause the crystals to dislodge include bending over too quickly, lying down too quickly, tilting your head or moving your head back and forth.
In order to keep your head still, your doctor may recommend sleeping with two or more pillows to tilt your head to a 45-degree angle. He or she may also recommend wearing a soft collar.
Results from an Epley maneuver
Most patients experience symptom relief after the Epley maneuver is performed. In rare cases, the Epley maneuver will not relieve your symptoms and you will need to have surgery on the ear canal.