“It is important to stress that a cervical factor may be present in all forms of vertigo and dizziness.” – Karel Lewit, MD, one of the foremost authorities in the world on locomotor system dysfunction
Your brain processes three different inputs to establish your sense of balance: your inner ear, your eyes, and tiny pressure sensors that line the inside of the joints of your upper neck. Each of these systems relays information to your brain about the position of your head and body. Dizziness or “vertigo” arises when one or more of these balance systems malfunctions and “confuses” your brain by sending incorrect information.
When you lean your head sideways, the pressure sensors on that side of your neck relay information to your brain about the tilt of your head. All is well, when your inner ear and eyes agree with this information. If one of the joints in your neck becomes abnormally restricted, it’s pressure sensors are “falsely” stimulated. This sensory mismatch, called “cervicogenic vertigo” or “cervical vertigo”, confuses your brain into a temporary state of dizziness until it can sort things out. Cervicogenic vertigo can develop when the muscles of your neck are too tight or the joints become stuck in an abnormal position. Certain conditions, like joint swelling, disc bulges, muscle tightness, or arthritis can be triggers for cervicogenic vertigo. This condition commonly develops after “whiplash” injuries.
What will I feel if I have this form of vertigo?
If you have cervicogenic vertigo, you will typically experience a feeling of light-headedness, floating, unsteadiness, or general imbalance, but rarely, true “spinning.” Your symptoms likely come and go and are provoked by movement and eased by remaining still. Many patients report some neck discomfort or stiffness associated with their dizziness. You may notice a headache beginning near the base of your skull. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a “severe” or “different” headache. You should also inform your doctor if you have a history of head injury, loss of consciousness, frequent unexplained falls, hearing loss, ringing in your ears, ear “fullness”, earache, fever, numbness or tingling in your face or arms, visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, difficulty walking, or if you are taking a new medication.
This might be me… What do I do from here?
Conservative chiropractic care is very effective at relieving cervicogenic vertigo. In fact, Karel Lewit, MD also stated, “in no field is manipulation more effective than in the treatment of vertigo.” Studies show a greater than 90% success rate for the chiropractic treatment of cervicogenic vertigo.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the cervicogenic vertigo symptoms listed above, please find a chiropractic physician near you and schedule an appointment.