Vertigo is a condition in which a person’s equilibrium proves faulty. People experiencing vertigo will randomly have episodes in which they feel the world and their bodies are spinning; however, in reality, there is no spinning movement occurring. Anyone who spins themselves for long enough and then stops in order to trick their body into a continued experience of spinning can get an idea of what these episodes are like. Often they come along with other unpleasant symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, as well as a probability of falling due to a loss of balance. This combination is tremendously inconvenient for daily life.
Within the inner ear are a number of structures that help the body to accurately make sense of incoming information that assists with balance and where the body is positioned in space. The structures within the ear are the saccule, the utricle, and the semicircular canals. The information they send to the brain is then translated into a response by the body. For example, to maintain balance, you may adjust your body position based on that information.
There are two areas from which vertigo can have its origin, and these are called peripheral vertigo and central (less common) vertigo. When the problem arises from the inner ear, it peripheral vertigo. In order to maintain balance, the functions of your inner ear must be working correctly. Otherwise you may encounter some problems. This could mean a disruption in the vestibular labyrinth, the semicircular canals, or the vestibular nerve that joins the inner ear with the brainstem. Any time one of these malfunctions, it can cause peripheral vertigo.
Common Reasons for Peripheral Vertigo
- BPPV (benign positional paroxysmal vertigo)
- Cervicogenic vertigo
- Vestibular migraine
- Mal de Debarquement syndrome (commonly called disembarkment syndrome)
- Meniere’s disease
- Injury, specifically to the head or neck
The central nervous system is directly associated with central vertigo. Any time vertigo is happening because of the brain, the brainstem, or the cerebellum, it is central vertigo.
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Common Reasons for Central Vertigo
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Blood vessel disease
- Certain medications such as aspirin and anticonvulsants
- Tumors (either cancerous or benign)
The Neck and Vertigo Connection
A common theme among vertigo sufferers is having some sort of head or neck injury in the past. What often happens to the top two neck bones is that they have shifted out of alignment from an impact, resulting in vertigo symptoms. This may sound a bit surprising, but due to the location of your eustachian tube, or inner ear, in relation to the uppermost parts the spine, having a spinal misalignment can cause problems in equilibrium. Another important factor to consider is that the bones of the upper cervical spine actually house the brainstem, which is vital for accurate vestibular function. When any of these is inhibited form working effectively, it can begin a domino effect upon all the systems mentioned above. The inner ear may not be able to drain well. The communication between the vestibular nerve and the brain could become less effective, losing necessary information used to maintain normal balance and body control. A string of other symptoms could then follow such as ear pressure, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), or even hearing loss.
This part of neck is vulnerable to misalignment because of the shape of the bones and their frequent use. This unique part of the spine is composed of the axis and the atlas, the two vertebrae responsible for both securing your head and allowing it free movement. Following an accident, the two bones have been known to misalign, which over time can cause conditions like vertigo.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Sheds Light on Natural Solutions
Upper cervical chiropractic care has been catching attention for the results we’ve had with our vertigo patients. As upper cervical chiropractors, we specialize in the axis and atlas, correcting the slightest misalignment with gentle adjustment methods. Not only that, but we also thoroughly examine our patients, looking into any history of injury to help find the root of the problem. The reason our care has proven so effective is that we are focused on the part of the spine that protects the brainstem. As we’ve learned, the brainstem is like the operator for all incoming sensory messages sent from the body to the brain. So correcting any postural deviations that could possibly impede those messages is imperative. Protecting upper spinal health directly affects the efficiency of the signals passed between the inner ear and the brain, potentially preventing future vertigo episodes and the accompanying symptoms.
A research study that followed 60 vertigo patients from ages 12 to 73, found that 56 of them had experienced some sort of head trauma. The injuries all varied in extremity, from a minor slip to a major car accident. Upper cervical chiropractors are well aware of the fragile state the spine can be placed in from minor or major impacts. Due to the frequent use of these upper two vertebrae, the slightest misalignment, over time, can produce dramatic issues such as vertigo.
Most importantly to know is that of the 60 patients studied, 100% of them experienced some kind of relief, and 80% were completely free of all vertigo symptoms after receiving upper cervical chiropractic care. These were patients who had tried every alternative care option and did not find satisfactory results. If this is you, consider an upper cervical care chiropractor to bring you gentle and calculated care, specific to the area of the body so vital for healthy connection between the inner ear and the brain. Restoring this connection significantly diminishes and can even eliminate vertigo symptoms.
Elster E, Sixty Patients With Chronic Vertigo Undergoing Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care to Correct Vertebral Subluxation: A Retrospective Analysis. J Vert Sublux Res 2006; Nov 8:1-9.
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