Epley Maneuver – How many times should it take?

People often ask, “I have tried the Epley Maneuver, it didn’t work, should I keep trying?”

In general terms, it may take several attempts to fully treat BPPV and most people can expect to have some recurrences.  We suggest that you need only perform the maneuver when you have an attack.  If you are not having symptoms then you don’t need to to do the maneuver although it may prevent recurrences.  It is always important to seek the advice of your own doctor to obtain a diagnosis and to monitor your condition.

With that said here are several important questions to ask yourself about failed BPPV treatment.

  1. Do you have BPPV?
    1. To achieve success with the Epley Maneuver or home treatment for BPPV you must be sure you have a correct diagnosis. These maneuvers do not work if you do not have BPPV.  There are many other types of dizziness, although BPPV is the most common.
    2. Posterior BPPV?
      1. There are actually a number of sub-types of BPPV.  Posterior canal BPPV (P-BPPV) is by far the most common.  The Epley maneuver treats P-BPPV but not the others.
  2. Did you do the maneuver correctly?
    1. Although the treatment maneuvers for BPPV are very effective it is not yet clear how incorrectly you can perform them and still have success.  The major reason for home treatment failure is an incorrectly performed maneuver . Home BPPV treatment devices are designed to minimized this problem.  Careful attention to detail in the maneuver as well as ensuring the correct angles, side and duration will improve success.  The most common mistake,..not putting you head back far enough (it can be too far though).
  3. Do you have bilateral BPPV?
    1. A small percentage of people will have BPPV on both sides and so after successful treatment on one side will still have symptoms.  This can be confusing.  We recommend that people treat one side daily for one week then switch to the other side.
  4. Do you have recurrent BPPV?
    1. BPPV treatment does not cure the problem it only removes the stimulus temporarily so as many as 60% of people will have symptoms more than once.   Some people have highly recurrent BPPV so after they successfully treat one episode it can come back in a matter of days and make them think they failed in their maneuver.  Daily maneuvers may control these problems.  In rare cases of very symptomatic and resistant BPPV surgery can be performed to block of the balance canal which causes BPPV.
  5. Are you ever going to respond?
    1. Do you have something else as well?
      1. BPPV can be found along with any other disease which causes inner ear damage.  Conditions like Menieres, head trauma, or inner ear infections may causes BPPV.  As such it can be confusing as to which condition is causing the vertigo.  Generally these symptoms can be sorted out by a skilled ear doctor.  You might need help with this one.
    2. Do you have resistant BPPV?
      1. About 5% of people have BPPV which is resistant to maneuvers.  This may be because the disease causing crystals are too large to come out of the posterior canal or that they are stuck to the inner ear somewhere.   Regardless the Epley maneuver does not work for these people.  Again in certain circumstances surgery may be indicated.

102 Responses

  1. Clearwater Clinical

    Usually 1 time is enough. However, you have to do it right. We developed the DizzyFIX to help people do it right. In the hands of a family doc success can be as low a 30% while with and ENT as high as 90%. So – I suggest if you are still having spinning attacks then seek further help. If you are only having off balance sensation then that is common. If you have other symptoms speak to your GP. Good luck.

  2. Clearwater Clinical

    Off balance feeling after BPPV is normal. If you are still having sudden spinning attacks then yes you need another maneuver.

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