Vertigo is a false sensation that feels as though the environment around you is rotating or as though you are moving or spinning even though you are standing still. Spinning around and around until you’ve made yourself dizzy is an example of self-induced vertigo that lasts only a short time. However, vertigo episodes that are caused by an accident or injury to the head or neck can last for hours or even days before there is any improvement.
Why Vertigo Happens
Most vertigo issues originate in the inner ear canal, which is part of the vestibular system. Here’s a brief breakdown of how this works. Sound is received through your inner ear canal and on into the eardrum as waves that vibrate the three inner ear bones: the incus, the malleus, and the stapes. Next they travel to the cochlea until they reach the vestibular nerve where the sound signals are sent to the brain. The inner ear plays an important role in balance in the body. The inner ear is composed of semicircular canals that are at right angles to each other and lined with very sensitive cells that maintain balance in the body. The intricate design of this part of the ear, as well as the sensitivity of the hair cells in the canals, gives immediate feedback about your position in your environment. An interruption of any of this process for any reason, you can lead to a vertigo episode.
Characteristics of Vertigo
As described above, vertigo gives the feeling of spinning or moving even though you are still. Simple actions such as moving your head or body, like when you are rolling over in bed, can make the symptoms worse. Nausea and vomiting may accompany vertigo for some people. Nystagmus (twitching or jerking of the eye) is a problem for others. Though greatly uncomfortable, vertigo is normally harmless except when accompanied with weakness on one side of the body. It is recommended that you be evaluated for a stroke if this happens.
Reasons for Vertigo Onset
There are a number of reasons that vertigo can strike. Knowing whether it is peripheral or central can help diagnose the cause of onset. If it is central vertigo, then the problem stems from the brain or spinal cord while peripheral vertigo is related to an issue in the inner ear caused by inflammation or the displacement of small crystals in the ear traveling where they shouldn’t be. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the name of the type of vertigo that occurs when these crystals move.
Some other causes of vertigo are:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- Multiple sclerosis
- Migraine headaches
- Blood clots
- Complications from diabetes
- Low blood sugar
- Anxiety and panic
- Motion sickness
Case Studies Show Positive Results for Vertigo Sufferers
We’ve summarized three different studies that reveal positive results for people suffering from vertigo. We will review these and follow up with how you can get similar results.
- A 23-year-old female was treated by an upper cervical chiropractor five months after a trip and fall that led her to being diagnosed with a concussion. The headaches she had experienced prior to the accident worsened and now included vertigo symptoms. Radiographs eliminated fractures from being a cause. However, they identified a misalignment in her upper cervical spine. After 1 to 2 months of treatment for her symptoms, her vertigo had gone away completely and her headaches improved as well.
- A 37-year-old female had a history of brachioradial pruritus (a neurogenic itch disorder of the upper extremities) as well as neck stiffness and vertigo. An examination revealed that she had a misalignment in her cervical spine. After two and a half months of upper cervical care, all her symptoms she’d had during her original chiropractor visit had resolved, including her vertigo.
- Let’s look at a larger study consisting 139 patients who were diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, (vertigo is one of the main symptoms of Meniere’s disease, along with tinnitus, ear congestion, and hearing loss). Every patient had some history of trauma similar to whiplash prior to the developing the condition. Each patient received an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment, tailored to his or her specific injury outcome. Of 139 participants, 136 saw an improvement in their symptoms, specifically vertigo symptoms.
What Was Discovered About Vertigo
The results of these studies indicate strong evidence that vertigo issues could begin with a misalignment in the upper cervical spine. This is not new information for upper cervical chiropractors who have been treating these types of symptoms for a long time. A misalignment of either the C1 (atlas) or C2 (axis) bones can place the brainstem under stress because these bones encase and are meant to protect the brainstem. This part of the neck is particularly susceptible to misalignments because of its wide range of movement and consistent use. A mild hit to the head or a trip and fall, as mentioned in the first study above, can move the bones out of place. This can cause the brainstem to send improper messages to the brain regarding the body’s location in relation to the environment. If, for example, the brainstem sends a signal to the brain that the body is moving when it isn’t, vertigo can be the end result. How can this problem be corrected?
Here at Blue Spinal Care, we use a similar method to what was used to treat the patients in the studies mentioned above. It is a gentle technique staying away from any kind popping the neck or cracking the spine. Instead, it is based on scientific measurements and precise movements that encourage the neck bones to return naturally to their proper place. Adjustments that are done without strong force lower the risk of the bones shifting back out of place once you’ve left the office. When the alignment is corrected, communication between the brain and body gets restored. Many of our patients report noticeable improvements or a complete resolution of their vertigo.