Vertigo cases are divided into two categories. The far more common is peripheral vertigo in which the occurrence is related to the functioning of the vestibular system located in the inner ear. Central vertigo is less often diagnosed and is still a bit controversial. Central vertigo refers to cases that find their genesis in the central nervous system (CNS).
- What is vertigo?
- How can you tell central vertigo from peripheral vertigo?
- Is there a natural way to find relief?
We will answer these questions and more in our article.
The Definition of Vertigo
It is tough to nail down a specific definition of vertigo, but as succinctly as possible, it is a false sensation of movement. How might this false sensation of movement manifest itself? Many describe the room as spinning. Or a person may feel like he or she is spinning even while standing still, sitting, or lying down. The room may also seem to tilt or sway as though one is rocking, floating, or falling. As a result of this disorienting sensation, many (especially older ones) attribute falls to sudden bouts of vertigo.
As noted above, this may sometimes be due to a problem in the central nervous system rather than in the ear itself. How can a person tell the difference? Here are 4 things to consider.
#1 How Long Does Vertigo Last?
Some patients have vertigo that only lasts for mere seconds at a time. Other patients constantly suffer feelings of motion. For example, there was a recent article in the news about a person who claims an amusement park ride has left her with permanent vertigo. For most people vertigo episodes last for 20-30 minutes and a few hours at the most.
Charting how long your vertigo episodes last and how often they occur may assist a medical professional in determining if vertigo is central or peripheral in nature.
#2 What Triggers a Vertigo Attack?
Some vertigo attacks seem to come out of nowhere. At other times, a person may only experience vertigo when subjected to certain conditions. Some common vertigo triggers include:
- Head movement
- Eye movement
- Standing up suddenly
- Bending over
- Seeing repeating or complex visual patterns
Knowing what causes the onset of a vertigo attack is another vital piece of information in determining the underlying cause.
#3 What Symptoms Accompany an Attack?
Sometimes vertigo may occur all by itself. However, it may be linked with a number of other symptoms. Is vertigo accompanied by lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting, falls, heart palpitations, headaches, asymmetric muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, double vision, sweating, or changes in speech patterns? These other symptoms may indicate whether a central or peripheral lesion is causing vertigo.
#4 Is Hearing Affected?
Some cases of vertigo are accompanied by symptoms that affect the hearing. For example, a person may suffer from partial hearing loss in one or both ears. Is the hearing loss progressive or sudden? Does the ability to hear vary? Is there a feeling of fullness in one or both ears? Is vertigo accompanied by tinnitus, a ringing in the ears? These additional hearing related symptoms may indicate whether vertigo is peripheral or central.
Conditions Associated with Central Vertigo
There are potential problems in the central nervous system that vertigo can come from. These include, but are not limited to:
- Lesion of the vestibular nerve – If a lesion forms on cranial nerve VIII, this can affect messages being sent to the brain regarding a person’s location in regard to what is around him.
- Trauma that affects the brainstem – There are numerous parts of the CNS that work together when it comes to balance and spatial orientation, but everything passes through the brainstem at some point, making this a critical area to observe, especially if an injury has occurred to the head or neck.
- Multiple sclerosis – This is a condition that involves the body destroying the myelin sheath of nerves. It results in scar tissue and inhibits CNS function. Over time, the symptoms can become increasingly worse. However, vertigo is often one of the first indicators.
Coping with Central Vertigo Naturally
There are few medications that have any effect on vertigo, and they all come with unwanted side effects. As a result, most people want to try to find natural relief before starting on a regimen of pills they may have to take for the rest of their life. One form of care that has helped many is upper cervical chiropractic. What does the top bone in the spine (atlas or C1) have to do with vertigo?
The atlas protects the area when the brainstem meets the spinal cord. Even the slightest misalignment may put pressure on the brainstem and lead to messages regarding balance and spatial orientation being affected. Also, a misalignment in the upper cervical spine can affect blood flow to the brain. This too can affect processing of information from the body’s sensory inputs dealing with location.
Upper cervical chiropractors use diagnostic imaging to take precise measurements of atlas misalignments. Then a custom adjustment is applied gently to each patient. This can correct the underlying problems being caused by the misalignment. In case studies, this has led to complete resolution of vertigo for up to 80% of participants.
To learn more, contact an upper cervical chiropractic practice in your area. If you are suffering from vertigo, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, you may have just found the natural form of relief you’ve been searching for.