Vertigo could be described as a false sensation of movement where the mind is tricked in thinking the world is spinning around the person. Identifying the cause only happens for about half of vertigo cases, and it is often linked to an issue found within the upper cervical spine. The most common kind of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which we will refer to throughout this article.
Reasons for Vertigo
A study recently found new evidence for the root cause of some vertigo cases. This study was done in 2006 and involved 60 patients who suffered from vertigo. Out of the total number of patients, 56 could recall enduring some type of head or neck trauma prior to the onset of vertigo. The accident was not always severe and included the following:
- Bicycle accidents
- Vehicle accidents
- Tripping and falling
- Skiing accidents
- Horseback riding injuries
- Similar trauma that involved the head or neck
This revealed a link between neck injuries and vertigo. We will discuss why this would be a connecting factor as we look further into the study results. First, let’s define more clearly what vertigo is.
Vertigo episodes can be short, involving mild to intense dizziness. There are specific head positions that can trigger it, for example, tipping your head forward or backward, rolling over in bed, sitting up from a lying position, or when moving from a standing position to a lying down position. It is not usually life-threatening unless the episode comes on while you are in a dangerous location, like being high up on an unstable landing or while driving a car.
- A loss of balance or feeling unsteady: Someone with vertigo may feel unsteady on their feet, as if their legs cannot walk straight, similar to walking a balance beam with one foot in front of the other but having no ability to accomplish even one successful step. The person would need support to help balance their footing on flat ground.
- Dizziness: Similar to the feeling you would get after spinning in circles for a while and suddenly stopping, this is a most unpleasant sensation when it comes without warning or reason.
- Nausea: Probably one of the worst symptoms of vertigo is the feeling of needing to vomit but not being able to do so. The thought of food is suddenly repulsive and the movement of a car ride or a motion on a computer screen is unbearable. Drinking peppermint tea may help with this symptom.
- Vomiting: This symptom usually does not last longer than a few hours.
- Tinnitus: When there is a ringing, roaring, or hissing noise in the ear.
- Eye twitching: Sometimes eye spasms, twitching, itching, or the compulsion to rub the eyes can happen as a result of fluid build-up in the inner ear. Using a cold cloth on your eyes for a short time may help.
- A migraine or a headache: Nausea or dizziness are often an indicator that a headache is on its way. Resting in a cool dark room and staying hydrated is a good idea when this happens. Laying a cold washcloth on the back of your neck or forehead may relieve some of the pain.
- Sweating: Drinking plenty of water if this is a symptom is the best way to go.
- Loss of coordination: Some vertigo episodes can result in the person suddenly dropping to the ground because the person has lost coordination. Other signs of coordination loss are clumsiness and being more susceptible to tripping, slipping, or dropping things. It is best not to lift anything heavy until the episode is over.
These symptoms can come and go, usually only lasting less than one minute. They could disappear for some time and then return. You may be unable to walk or stand still because you feel off balance. Sometimes nystagmus occurs, which is an abnormal rhythmic movement or jerking of the eye.
When to Get Emergency Help
Vertigo is usually not very dangerous, but there are situations when it is recommended to get the help of your primary care doctor any time vertigo is accompanied by the following:
- Loss of vision or seeing double
- Numbness or tingling
- Trouble talking
- An abnormal or a severe headache
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Losing consciousness
- Problems walking or falling down
- Loss of hearing
Spinal Alignment Brings Vertigo Relief
A misalignment of the bones in the upper cervical spine could be the cause of vertigo. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are surround and protect the brainstem in the upper neck. What often happens to these bones when a person experiences a head or neck injury is they can get moved out of place. This can put pressure on the brainstem, causing it to send improper signals to the brain about where the body is located, thus leading to vertigo symptoms.
Here at Asbury Family Chiropractic, we use a precise and gentle method to help realign the bones of the neck into their proper place. Our method is based on science and specific measurements. It does not require any popping or cracking of the spine to restore correct alignment. Every participant in the study mentioned previously in this article saw improvement in their vertigo symptoms. After only a month of treatment, one of the individuals experienced a complete recovery from all signs of vertigo for the first time in 37 years. If you or someone you know is suffering from vertigo, give us a call today.