Updated: Jun 20
Many people deal with occasional bouts of dizziness, but people with Vertigo have chronic dizziness, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headaches, and neck pain. Most people see a significant decrease in the quality of their lives because of how the vertigo episodes can affect them and their ability to do activities of daily living like work, exercise, or even washing your hair can be a struggle.
There are several causes of vertigo, most commonly from Benign Proximal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's disease, and Acute Vestibular Neuritis (AVN), but can also be caused by whiplash or neck injuries, migraine headaches, basilar artery insufficiency, or ear infections among other things.
Some types of vertigo are more structural in nature, such as BPPV where calcified particles collect in the inner ear and stimulate the vestibular nerve in a negative way. Therapies like the Eply Maneuver can help.
However, I see in my practice that many cases of vertigo do not respond well to the medications from the neurologist or physical therapy methods. This is unfortunate because most vertigo patients find me as their last resort and are truly suffering without answers.
After a thorough new patient exam, we often discover a history of trauma to the cervical spine (the neck) or lots of repetitive stress like poor posture, which wreaks havoc on the spine, muscles, and even blood flow into the head. What we find as upper cervical chiropractors are that we can help Vertigo patients in 3 ways by focusing on the alignment of the Craniocervical Junction (the joint and attachment of your head to your neck).
Optimal alignment helps Vertigo in 3 ways:
1) Improves blood flow: in particular with the vertebral arteries, which run through the cervical spine, but join to create supply the part of the brainstem that houses the vestibular nerve nucleus.
2) Decreases Spinal Cord Tension: The dentate ligaments anchor the spinal cord to the C1 and C2 vertebrae. If the top two bones in the neck become twisted out of place and misaligned they will put a slight tension on the cord and this decreases nerve and blood flow. Dysponesis or Dysaffrentation is often the result, which can result is a married of symptoms since it is involving the autonomic nervous system.
3) Improves head positing and posture: Your head position or head tilting and tipping can have a big negative effect on your posture, balance, and coordination. Your brain is constantly controlling your balance, this is what stops me from falling out of the chair as I type this blog, but if it was off, I may feel like I'm constantly swaying or about to roll off the chair. This is known as the Writing Reflex, I wrote a blog about it, you can read about it in more detail here.
Ultimately we don't know if the cause is coming from the spine or inside the skull, but a thorough exam will let us know, and as I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, were are usually the last resort. If this sounds like you I encourage you to schedule a consultation and we could potentially make some huge changes with your symptoms and get your life back on track.