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Did you know? Almost half the cases of vertigo have no known medical cause, which means many vertigo patients often go searching for answers outside of prescription medications. Some vertigo patients have even found resolution to their vertigo after correcting an imbalance to their head and neck alignment through upper cervical chiropractic care.
What is the relationship of the neck to vertigo?
First, what is vertigo?
Because of its often unknown origin, vertigo is best described by its symptoms: recurring dizziness, spinning sensations, and a loss of balance. Put simply, the brain becomes confused, and tells the body that the earth is moving or the room is spinning, when, in actuality, it isn’t. More severe cases may include nausea, vomiting, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and blurred vision.
Vertigo is not dizziness alone (which can happen for a variety of reasons), but dizziness that occurs repeatedly, often based on repeated changes to the position of the head. Vertigo-like symptoms often come with other health problems, like Meniere’s Disease, Migraines, and inner-ear infection.
What causes BPPV?
When vertigo happens without a connection to any other symptoms, it is often called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). According to medicine, BPPV is often caused by calcium deposits in the inner ear shifting when the head moves, causing the body’s nervous system all kinds of problems in maintaining balance. These calcium deposits are known as canalithiasis.
In cases where canalithiasis is actually the cause of the vertigo, many patients are helped by a specific treatment for repositioning the calcium crystals in the inner ear, called Epley’s maneuver.
Vertigo and head trauma and the neck
So what causes vertigo in cases where the doctors can find an origin to the problem? According to MayoClinic.com “When a cause can be determined, BPPV is often associated with a minor to severe blow to your head.”
For our upper cervical chiropractic practice in Columbus, this is good reason to consider vertigo also as a spinal problem, and not just a problem inside the brain. Let’s see why.
When a trauma occurs to the body, such as a car accident, blow to the head, or fall, it often affects the first neck bone or C1, because of the unique role and shape this bone has: it is a coupling mechanism between the head and the neck.
The body will quickly adapt to an uncontrolled force into the head and neck by locking this joint down to protect the highly sensitive anatomy inside the top of the spine: the lower part of the brain stem and the beginning of the spinal cord. Unfortunately this temporary trauma moves the atlas bone (C1) into a position that disrupts and even chokes the nerve signals from the brain. If the congestion at the bottom of the brain and the top of the neck affects the nerves that communicate with the inner ear, then vertigo-like symptoms can be the result.
Vertigo and the upper cervical chiropractic adjustment
Upper cervical adjustments take indirect pressure off of the lower brain stem and the upper spinal cord by gently moving the C1 (first cervical) or atlas vertebrae, thereby repositioning the head in relationship to the neck.
By reducing the amount of pressure on the brain stem the nervous system is able to function more efficiently.
The nervous system controls postural tone, spatial orientation, and coordination between movements in the body—and when these systems are not working correctly vertigo can result.
The upper cervical chiropractor allows the body the chance to naturally reduce vertigo symptoms by correcting the cause—the confused communication between the brain and the body.
Consider upper cervical care if you suffer from vertigo
Even if you have no obvious history of head or neck trauma, there is a chance that your vertigo or BPPV symptoms could be related to an upper cervical misalignment.
If addressing calcium deposits in your inner ear has offered little help to you, then addressing head to neck balance through upper cervical care in the Columbus, OH area could be your next step. The important thing to keep in mind is that the procedure for upper cervical re-alignment is not itself a treatment for vertigo in the medical sense—for that you’d have to get a surgery or a prescription. Rather it is a way to address the underlying imbalance that is confusing the body into having vertigo or vertigo-like symptoms.