Vertigo is such a common symptom that you may feel you know everything about it. Perhaps you have already scoured the Internet for everything there is to know. We’re going to dig deep to try and provide you with a few facts you may not know. Even if you end up being familiar with a few of them, be sure to read to the end of the article to learn about a unique way that some patients have found help for their vertigo episodes.
You Probably Won’t Find Out What Is Causing Your Vertigo
We hate to provide you with some bad news, especially since it is far easier to cope with vertigo if you know the underlying cause. Unfortunately, most people with vertigo receive a BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) diagnosis. According to researchers, BPPV results from head trauma about 20% of the time. Another 10% of cases related to vestibular neuritis. That is inflammation of the vestibular nerve (more on that later), which can occur following a virus like a cold or flu.
That leaves the majority of people with the most common vertigo diagnosis in the “idiopathic” category. That’s just a fancy way of saying the doctor doesn’t know what is causing the vertigo. And most of the time, that is where the diagnosis is left unless the patient self-advocates to try and find the underlying cause.
Vertigo is considered a non-fatal symptom, so doctors have bigger things to worry about, like cancer, heart disease, or now the novel coronavirus. The problem is that vertigo can cause a fall if it happens under the wrong circumstance. The fall can be deadly, especially the older a person gets. So finding the underlying cause is not something you should readily dismiss as non-essential.
Don’t Call It Dizziness
People often mistake the terms vertigo and dizziness. In fact, a grammar checker will probably recommend that I change half of the times I say vertigo in this article to dizziness to use more diversified vocabulary. Unfortunately, this can also affect your ability to get a decent diagnosis.
Your doctor will know the difference between vertigo and dizziness and may assume that you do. So if you say that you have dizzy spells, your doctor is going to think that you’ve been lightheaded a lot recently. You have to say vertigo if you are experiencing false sensations of movement, such as the room spinning, tilting, or swaying.
Vertigo May Relate to the Eighth Cranial Nerve
This nerve, also called the vestibulocochlear nerve, is the one that sends information from the ear to the brain for processing. You can imagine what may happen if something is messing with that information. We’ve already mentioned that vertigo can result from inflammation in this nerve.
Another thing that can throw off these signals is inflammation in the inner ear, called labyrinthitis. Since the labyrinth collects the information that gets sent to the brain through the eighth cranial nerve, swelling in this critical area can lead to wrong data getting sent to the brain in the first place. Inner ear inflammation occurs in similar ways to inflammation in the nerve. It is usually the result of a cold or flu.
Vertigo Can Begin in the Central Nervous System
Vertigo is usually considered to be an issue with the ear, but that idea may result from the many diagnosed cases of idiopathic BPPV. Central vertigo is a second category of vertigo causes that are not related to the ear. In other words, these vertigo causes are in the central nervous system.
A few examples of vertigo causes that relate to the CNS rather than the ear include migraines, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. Clearly, many factors may lead to vertigo that occurs outside of the ear.
Atlas (C1) Position May Relate to the Onset of Vertigo
The atlas is the top bone of the neck located at the base of the skull. Surrounding the brainstem where it meets the spinal cord, the atlas plays a crucial role in CNS health. When properly aligned, it protects vital CNS components and even helps support blood flow to the brain (along with the rest of the neck vertebrae).
When misaligned, the atlas creates its own unique set of problems for the body. The brainstem may fail to function optimally, or there may be alterations in cerebral blood flow. Additionally, because the atlas balances the skull, changes may take place along the rest of the neck and spine that adversely affect the CNS.
Considering how many cases of BPPV relate to physical trauma, this begins to make sense. Head and neck injuries can impact atlas alignment. This, in turn, leads to symptoms like vertigo. It is no wonder that case studies exist to back up the efficacy of spinal realignment to help vertigo (atlas realignment in particular).
One 33-year-old woman was searching for natural relief because she was nursing. Using thermography and electromyography as well as cervical radiographs, the chiropractor pinpointed misalignments that could relate to her vertigo. Within just 14 visits, the patient was symptom-free!
Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic and Vertigo
If you are living with vertigo, you may want to try upper cervical chiropractic, which specifically targets the atlas. If your vertigo is the result of a misalignment, you may have just found the natural solution to your chronic health problem. Schedule an appointment with a practitioner near you to learn more.