What is the Epley maneuver?
The Epley maneuver is an exercise you can do at home to relieve dizziness caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
BPPV is caused by a problem with the inner ear. Calcium crystals called canaliths can end up in the semicircular canals. If these crystals become dislodged and move around, they can cause the sensation that the world is spinning or moving, also known as vertigo. The Epley maneuver, however, can dislodge these crystals and remove them from the semicircular canals.
The Epley maneuver is often effective for many patients with BPPV, especially in cases where certain head movements seem to trigger vertigo. Many people say their symptoms are relieved immediately after the maneuver, though some may have mild symptoms for a few weeks. The maneuver is generally safe for most people to use.
Steps for Epley maneuver
To perform the Epley maneuver on yourself, follow the steps below. These directions are written for a problem on the left side. If you have a problem with the right side, follow the same steps, but turn your head in the opposite direction.
Step 1: Start sitting up on a bed, with your legs flat on the bed in front of you. Turn your head 45 degrees to the left.
Step 2: Lie down, keeping your head turned to the left. Wait 30 seconds.
Step 3: Turn your head to the right 90 degrees, until it’s facing 45 degrees to your right side. Wait 30 seconds.
Step 4: Roll over onto your right side before sitting up.
Tips for success
It’s normally a good idea to have your doctor show you how to perform the Epley maneuver for the first time. They can make sure you’re doing it correctly.
Many people will have their symptoms clear up almost immediately, but some people will need to redo the maneuver. Some people will use the maneuver three times before going to sleep at night. That way, if you get dizziness or vertigo after the exercise, you can sleep and rest while it resides.
The Epley maneuver is only proven to be effective for people with BPPV. It won’t be effective for other forms of vertigo.
While the Epley maneuver is safe for most people, check with your doctor if you have:
- neck or back disease or injuries
- vascular conditions
- retinal detachment
What if I’m still dizzy?
If you’re still dizzy after the home Epley maneuver, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They can make sure that you’re doing the maneuver correctly or discuss other treatments.
These may include canalith repositioning maneuvers, which are a series of specific head and body movements. These movements are designed to remove the calcium crystals from the semicircular canal to a different part of the inner ear. There, the body can absorb them.
Your doctor may also recommend nausea or motion sickness medications.