Have you ever looked up at the top shelf and started spinning? Maybe in a grocery store or in your own kitchen? I’ve had many patients with top-shelf vertigo. Some even experienced this type of vertigo attack while standing on a step stool, which can be extra scary.

In this blog, I will discuss two common causes of top-shelf vertigo and what to do.

What Causes Top-Shelf Vertigo?

The two most common root causes of dizziness or spinning while looking up at the top shelf are BPPV and upper cervical dizziness.


The most common root cause of top-shelf vertigo is BPPV.

BPPV is an inner ear condition where crystals are loose in your inner ear.

When your head is level, the loose crystals are settled. But when you lean your head back to look up, the crystals can slide around in your inner ear and cause a spin.

The spin usually lasts for less than a minute, but it can set off a fight-or-flight response which can last for much longer.

If you are getting top-shelf vertigo from BPPV, you may also be feeling dizziness or vertigo when you lie down or roll over in bed.

Vertigo with looking up, lying down, rolling over, sitting up in bed, or getting out of bed are all common symptoms of BPPV.

What To Do If Suffering from BPPV

If you think you might have BPPV, I suggest you consult with a vestibular healthcare provider.

This blog can help you search for someone local in your area.

Upper Cervical Dizziness

The second most common cause of top-shelf vertigo is upper cervical dizziness.

Patients with cervical dizziness may complain of chronic neck pain, or they may just have neck stiffness without any pain.

If you cannot turn your neck to the right and left 90° without tension, you may have upper cervical dizziness.

For more information about upper cervical dizziness, click here.

Click here for information on who can help with upper cervical dizziness.

BPPV and upper cervical dizziness are the most common causes of top-shelf vertigo. I hope this blog was helpful if you’ve experienced dizziness or spinning while looking up at the top shelf!


This blog is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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