The last thing Rhonda Witty needed the week of her son’s wedding was to feel sick and dizzy from the vertigo she has experienced for the past five years. Rhonda’s week was filled with appointments at the dentist, hair salon, and an unplanned one at River’s Edge Physical Therapy.
Rhonda and her husband live in St. Peter during the winter months and live near Devils Lake, North Dakota in the summer months. They were back in St. Peter in August for her son’s wedding. She had been fighting vertigo regularly for the past year, saying if she would move her head a certain way, it would trigger symptoms.
Vertigo is a medical condition that causes a sensation of imbalance. It is an inner ear problem where the crystals that send messages to the brain are out of place. Bette Berndt, PT at River’s Edge Hospital, said that when those crystals are out of place, they send a message that you are spinning or falling. Symptoms of vertigo include a feeling of spinning, tilting, imbalance, swaying, and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headache, and sweating.
Rhonda’s symptoms returned when she was getting her hair done. She said she was laying in the chair and everything started spinning. “I broke out into a sweat, my eyes felt like they were floating around,” she recalled.
The Thursday before the wedding Rhonda had a dentist appointment and the symptoms returned. Rhonda said the hygienist asked her if she was okay because she told Rhonda her eyes were moving all over the place. “You can see how I am feeling?,” she recalled asking. They hygienist told Rhonda about a procedure that could help Rhonda feel better. Fortunately, Rhonda also had her annual physical that day and talked to her provider. “I called physical therapy and got in Friday morning with Bette,” Rhonda said.
The procedure the hygienist told Rhonda about was the one Bette used. It is called the Epley Maneuver. The technique is done by having the patient sit up on the treatment table. The physical therapist has the patient turn their head to the right, and later the left, and fall back quickly to find which side needs to have the crystals adjusted. If the patient gets dizzy on one side versus the other, that is the side that needs treatment. Then the Physical Therapist lays the patient down on the treatment table, holding their head off the edge. The Physical Therapist waits until the dizziness goes away then continues treatment in a different position. This continues until the patient no longer feels dizzy while in a sitting position. “It’s hard to explain, but easy to do,” Bette said. Rhonda said her treatment took about 20 minutes.
After treatment Rhonda went home to rest and then went to the groom’s dinner that night. She was tired and not her normal active self that night. Her son’s friends commented that she looked like she was not feeling well.
On the wedding day, Rhonda was feeling great. She was able to enjoy her son’s wedding with no vertigo symptoms. Since then, she has been feeling good. She knows what the triggers are and does things to prevent the dizziness.
Successful treatment of vertigo with the Epley Maneuver depends on the individual. In Rhonda’s case, it took one treatment. Bette noted that some people need to come in more than one time for treatment. Patients who have vertigo must have a physician referral before coming to River’s Edge for treatment. Three of the physical therapists are trained in the Epley Maneuver – Bette Berndt, Kristine Hall and Deb Mattson. To make an appointment with Physical Therapy, call 931-2200.
Interested in seeing how the Epley Manuever works? Visit this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4S4CbuN6QA