Researchers have introduced a promising treatment for the common cause of vertigo. Scientists from the University of Texas in Dallas revealed a new gadget that they claim could help ease cluster headaches and vestibular migraines, the leading neurological causes of vertigo.
Called the GammaCore, the gadget is a non-invasive device that delivers electrical stimulation. Holding the device on your neck during a vertigo attack would send electrical impulses to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve functions as a communication highway between the body and the brain. The handheld device is already available on NHS England.
Vestibular Migraine and Key Results in a Study
Vestibular migraine or migrainous vertigo accounts for about 40% of all migraine cases. It is unique to the rest of migraine types as it brings about symptoms such as sudden episodes of vertigo, dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, and oversensitivity to light. At the moment, there is no approved treatment for vertigo associated with this condition in the US or UK.
In a study published by Neurology, 14 patients dealing with vestibular migraines put the GammaCore gadget against their neck for two minutes during a vertigo episode. As a result, 13 out of 14 patients reported improvement in their vertigo. Two shared elimination of their dizziness afterward, and five reported relief by 50% of their vertigo. The stimulation worked by blocking the pain signals that cause the vestibular migraines.
The Role of the Vagus Nerve and Brainstem in Vertigo
The vagus nerve is the most intricate and most protracted of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that begin in the brain. It relays information to or from the brain to different organs in the body. In addition, this nerve is interconnected to the vestibular system, which is the body’s system responsible for maintaining our sense of balance and spatial orientation. For this reason, it makes sense that the use of vagus nerve stimulation can alleviate vertigo in vestibular migraine attacks. The vagus nerve also connects the brainstem to the body.
The information about balance that comes from the eyes, sensors from the muscles and joints, and vestibular system travel to the same place – the brainstem. It is a crucial part of the central nervous system as it serves as a center and switchboard for the nerve signals passing between the body and brain. Once balance signals reach the brainstem, the body sorts and combines the information from various parts of the brain to make necessary adjustments to the body’s position to keep the balance.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation — Is It the Answer?
Going back to the study, researchers admitted that more testing is necessary to evaluate the use of vagus nerve stimulation in treating vestibular migraine. Only after the confirmation of its positive results in more extensive studies, could we say this treatment option really works for getting rid of migrainous vertigo.
For the time being, the treatment of vestibular migraines centers on the avoidance of triggers, which include dehydration, stress, anxiety, low blood sugar, caffeine, and insomnia. Anti-nausea drugs are also given to patients to control the vestibular system. However, they frequently cause drowsiness, and they don’t stop vertigo from occurring.
Another Effective, Non-Invasive Solution for Migrainous Vertigo
Another non-invasive relief option for vestibular migraine or migrainous vertigo is upper cervical chiropractic. This form of natural therapy focuses its attention on the atlas, the topmost vertebra of the neck (upper cervical spine).
As you may know, the vagus nerve and the brainstem reside within the neck area. The atlas vertebra, together with the axis, protects the brainstem. The brainstem helps the brain confirm the body’s location in its surroundings.
If the atlas misaligns due to a neck or head injury, the brainstem can suffer from undue stress. This stress can lead to malfunction of the brainstem and the relaying of faulty signals to the brain about the body’s position in its environment. The brain can also start getting messages that do not match the information from the receptors of the body. The inevitable results are vertigo, loss of balance, dizziness, and irregular equilibrium. Correction of the atlas misalignment can bring on relief from these symptoms.
Relieving Migrainous Vertigo Through Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Upper cervical chiropractic is a natural therapy that encourages the atlas to move back into alignment, allowing it to hold in place for as long as possible. By means of this, the body can restore the normal function of the brainstem. A properly aligned C1 and C2 can help vertigo patients reduce or entirely get rid of their symptoms, thereby restoring their quality of life.
Is upper cervical chiropractic an effective relief alternative for vertigo?
A study examined 60 patients with vertigo. All of them got upper cervical chiropractic care to correct a misalignment in their neck. At the end of the study, 48 patients reported complete remission of their vertigo. The others saw a reduction in their vertigo symptoms.
Several things about upper cervical chiropractic stand out. First, the detailed patient history and assessments allow the practitioner to customize the care of each patient. Second is the gentleness and use of only low force adjustments. Lastly, there is great precision as upper cervical chiropractors use diagnostic imaging and x-rays to measure the exact misalignments.
To experience similar results as the study above, reach out to an upper cervical chiropractor near you. Click the search function on our website to find an upper cervical chiropractic doctor.