What is vertigo? It is a false sensation of movement. A person may feel as though he is spinning, swaying, rocking, or tilting, even when lying down. Severe cases of vertigo can result in nausea and vomiting. If you or a loved one is suffering from vertigo, what should you know about this symptom and is there a natural way to find some relief and possibly prevent a fall? We are going to address these topics and more.
What Causes Vertigo?
Some may answer that question by saying that it is just a part of getting older. However, you shouldn’t write vertigo off as a part of life just because it becomes increasingly common after the age of 40. In fact, many of the 1 in 3 seniors who fall each year report a sudden case of vertigo as the cause of the fall. Thus, this is a vital matter to address.
First of all, it is important to understand that the cause of vertigo is not the same for each person. Vertigo causes are divided into two categories:
- Central Vertigo – This is the less common form of vertigo. It involves an issue with the central nervous system that leads to vertigo. For example, vertigo could be related to a neurological condition such as migraines, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia.
- Peripheral Vertigo – Most vertigo is related to the function of the inner ear which makes up the vestibular system – the body’s way of maintaining balance and spatial orientation. While the problem may be caused by swelling in the labyrinth of the ear or the vestibular nerve that sends signals to the brain, other types of peripheral vertigo include Meniere’s disease (related to excess endolymphatic fluid in the ear) or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (vertigo that is related to head position).
This makes up a cross-section of the majority of the underlying causes of vertigo. One very serious cause not included in these two categories would be a heart attack. So if you experience vertigo along with a number of other symptoms of a cardiac event, you should seek emergency medical attention.
The Underlying Factors in Vertigo Occurrence
Of course, the underlying issues behind vertigo are often undiscovered. This is because a person may have vertigo a few times and then it goes away, so he or she never goes to the doctor. Or a person with chronic vertigo may not have any of the conditions noted above, so doctors are perplexed at what is causing the issue to occur. However, vertigo patients often have several common factors:
- Head Injury – Onset of vertigo frequently follows concussions and other head injuries. It is a common migraine symptom (another condition that may set in after an injury) and is a part of the diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome.
- Neck Injury – After a whiplash-type injury, vertigo can begin and gradually become chronic. For example, a person who suffers whiplash, even in a minor car accident, may find that vertigo starts in the weeks, months, or even several years following the incident.
This starts to paint a picture in regard to how vertigo begins. The genesis is often some type of physical trauma. This may go back to the fact that most head and neck injuries, even minor ones, can cause an upper cervical misalignment. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are the top two in the spine and are located at the base of the skull. As a result, a misalignment here can affect:
- Brainstem function – The brainstem receives the signals coming from the vestibular nerve. Any problem with brainstem function could lead to confused signals about the body’s location in relation to objects around it.
- Blood flow to the brain – If blood flow to the parts of the brain that control balance and motion are affected, this can lead to vertigo and other vestibular problems.
- Eustachian tube function – If a lesion forms on the Eustachian tube due to its close proximity to the C1 (atlas), this can inhibit endolymph drainage. As a result, there could be extra fluid in the ears, leading to tinnitus, vertigo, and even hearing loss.
Finding Natural Relief from Vertigo
Many patients are finding that upper cervical chiropractic is able to help with vertigo and other vestibular symptoms. This is because correcting the underlying misalignment may help relieve the issues that are leading to vertigo. It is no wonder then that in one study of 60 vertigo patients, 80% saw complete resolution of their symptoms after upper cervical chiropractic care. The other 20% all received significant benefits as well.
It is important to note that in the study mentioned above 56 of the 60 could remember a head or neck trauma in the past before vertigo began. This makes upper cervical chiropractic an important option for patients who experience the onset of vertigo following an injury. However, it also provided benefits to the patients who could remember no such injury, so an examination is in order either way.
Upper cervical chiropractors focus specifically on the C1 and C2 and use diagnostic imaging to measure misalignments precisely. This allows us to render tailored and gentle corrections for each patient. These adjustments are long-lasting and are provided on an as-needed basis, so this has proved to be a cost-effective solution for many as well.
To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care and what it may be able to do for you, contact a practice in your area and schedule a consultation.