Epley and Semont Manoeuvres for Vertigo

Search Knowledgebase

Topic Contents

Epley and Semont Manoeuvres for Vertigo

Treatment Overview

The Epley and Semont manoeuvres are exercises used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). They are done with the assistance of a doctor or physiotherapist. A single 10- to 15-minute session usually is all that is needed.

When your head is firmly moved into different positions, the calcium crystal (canalith) debris causing vertigo will slip out of the semicircular canal into an area of the inner ear where it will no longer cause symptoms. Two manoeuvres have been used successfully: the Epley manoeuvre and the Semont manoeuvre.

The Epley manoeuvre is performed as follows:

  • You are seated, and the doctor turns your head 45 degrees horizontally toward the affected ear. You should hold the doctor’s arms for support.
  • The doctor tilts you backward to a horizontal position with your head kept in place at a 45-degree turn, hanging. An attack of vertigo is likely as the debris moves toward the apex of the canal. You are held in this position until the vertigo stops, usually within a minute.
  • The doctor turns your head 90 degrees toward the unaffected ear. The doctor then rolls you onto the side of the unaffected ear, so that you are now looking at the floor. The debris should move in the canal again, possibly provoking another attack of vertigo. You should remain in this position until the vertigo stops, usually within a minute.
  • The doctor helps you back to a seated position.

The Semont manoeuvre is performed as follows:

  • You are seated, and the doctor turns your head 45 degrees horizontally toward the unaffected ear.
  • The doctor tilts you 105 degrees so that you are lying on the side of the affected ear with your head hanging and your nose pointed upward. You remain in this position for 3 minutes. The debris should move to the apex of the canal.
  • The doctor then moves you quickly through the seated position, holding your head in place, until you are lying on the side of the unaffected ear with your nose pointed to the ground. You remain in this position for 3 minutes. The debris should move toward the exit of the canal.
  • The doctor then slowly moves you back to the seated position. The debris should fall into the utricle of the canal, where it will not cause vertigo.

Sometimes these manoeuvres are done while you wear a vibrating headband. But the vibration may not help any more than the manoeuvre alone.1

In some cases, your doctor or physiotherapist may have you do a modified Epley procedure at home. If your doctor has shown you how and you feel confident, you can try this at home to get rid of your vertigo.

What To Expect After Treatment

The Epley and Semont manoeuvres may improve or cure benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) with only one treatment. Some people need multiple treatments.

Why It Is Done

Epley and Semont manoeuvres are used to treat BPPV.

How Well It Works

The Epley procedure is safe and works well to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).1

The Semont manoeuvre may work to stop symptoms of BPPV. But the evidence is not as good as it is for the Epley procedure.1

Risks

These manoeuvres should not be done on people with back or spine injuries or problems.

Sometimes the manoeuvre can move the debris from one inner ear canal to another. This can cause a different kind of vertigo.

What To Think About

The Epley and Semont manoeuvres are more effective than other treatments for BPPV, such as exercises (for example, the Brandt-Daroff exercise).1 Exercises do not treat the cause of BPPV. They help speed up compensation by the brain. When the Epley and Semont manoeuvres work, they can relieve symptoms of vertigo quickly.

If the Epley and Semont manoeuvres don't work to relieve your symptoms of vertigo, you may not have the most common type of BPPV. Or you may not have BPPV at all.

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.

References

Citations

  1. Fife TD, et al. (2008). Practice parameter: Therapies for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 70(22): 2067–2074.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD, MD - Neurology
Last Revised February 15, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.