Vertigo 101: Your Beginner’s Guide to this Common Symptom


Don’t let the fact that vertigo is extremely common fool you. You are certainly not alone if you need more information about this symptom. Whether you are personally experiencing recurring bouts of vertigo or want to learn more about something a loved one is going through, this is the article for you. We’ll help you understand the condition better and provide a recommendation for natural relief. 

How does the body sense movement?

Before you start trying remedies such as upper cervical chiropractic care, you need to take a step back to figure out how the body perceives motion in the first place. It comes in quite handy because, practically, vertigo is a symptom where your mind thinks you’re moving or spinning even when you’re not.

Essentially, various organs work hand in hand to help you perceive your body’s spatial relationship with your surroundings. Some of these include your eyes, ears, vestibular system, and the sensors located on your skin and extremities. As you move your head and body, a steady stream of information from your motor sensory organs flows into the brain.

In a typical setup, where you have a properly aligned head and spinal column, the flow of sensory signals to and from your brain doesn’t get disturbed. This, allows you to perceive your orientation with great ease.

However, some people, such as patients suffering from vertigo, have problems with their vestibular system. Because of such a defect, the brain has more difficulty processing information. It could also lead to miscommunication of your motor sensory organs and your central nervous system. As a result, you perceive false motion.

What’s The Role of the Vestibular System in Your Vertigo Episodes?

Now that we’ve briefly mentioned the vestibular system, let’s take a closer look at how it works. Basically, the vestibular system is a group of organs found inside the ears. With it working hand in hand with your brain, you can perceive changes in balance and motion.

Both the left and right sides of the ears have vestibular organs. Consequently, both transmit signals according to how you move your head. For example, if you tilt your head towards the right, the signals coming from the right side of the brain increase. Conversely, the signals sent by your left vestibular system decrease.

Your body responds to the influx of information by moving your eyes or muscles. This way, you can adjust to your environment and avoid tripping, slipping, or falling.

Unfortunately, the vestibular system sometimes faces issues such as inner ear infections, previous injuries, and aging. When this happens, you begin experiencing problems such as vertigo attacks. You might also experience other symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Visual disturbances or aura (seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, etc.)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Nystagmus (uncontrolled eye-jerking)

vertigo,Upper cervical chiropractic

As you may notice, a migraine episode's symptoms tend to be quite complicated as it involves various parts of the body. This is precisely why seeking a relief option also tends to be tricky. For example, while drinking medications can help deal with balance problems, you may still experience problems when an attack happens if you experience other symptoms.

Good thing, you can try Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care, a holistic approach to healing your vertigo and other symptoms. Essentially, this procedure involves dealing with the most likely cause of your vertigo attacks – a spinal misalignment.   

Is Vertigo a Disease? 

It is just a symptom. There is no disease called vertigo, although there is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). For brevity, some people just call it positional vertigo. Perhaps this has caused some people to think that it is more than just a symptom. 

What are the Conditions that Cause Vertigo? 

Many different conditions can cause it – too many to mention them all here. This is why it is such a common problem. However, we can mention some of the more well-known causes. 

We can break it down into two categories: central and peripheral. 

Central Vertigo Causes 

Central vertigo occurs when the condition relates to the central nervous system. The most common cause of central vertigo is migraine. About 40% of migraines present with a vestibular symptom. That means millions of people get a spinning sensation for this reason alone. However, any neurological condition that causes vertigo would result in it being considered central vertigo. 

Peripheral Vertigo Causes 

This is the more common form of vertigo. It means that it comes from a problem in the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. Since the vestibular system is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, it makes sense that a problem would lead to false sense of movement. It can be something as simple as inflammation in the ear or as complex as a syndrome like Meniere’s disease. Positional vertigo also falls into this category, which is what makes it the more common of the two.

Can Attacks Differ in Length and Severity?

Depending on the cause of your vertigo, the attacks may differ in length and severity. Let’s take two specific causes of it to illustrate this point. 

First, we will consider positional vertigo. Positional vertigo results in episodes that last just a few seconds or a few minutes at the most. Because of this, it is not considered to be very serious. However, you have to remember that even a few seconds of attack can cause a fall with perilous consequences. 

If a person is living with Meniere’s disease, vertigo attacks will be much more severe and lengthy in duration. Meniere’s flare-ups usually cause an attack for at least 20 minutes. Some attacks can last all day long and contribute to nausea and vomiting. 

While the duration of a bout of vertigo can make it more debilitating, it is the sudden nature of an attack that makes it dangerous and can cause a fall, a severe injury, or even death. So be sure to investigate any cause of vertigo to learn if there is a way to prevent it from happening again. 

What Triggers a Vertigo Attack?

Depending on the underlying cause, varying factors may lead to the sudden onset of an episode. Knowing your triggers can help you to avoid them and reduce how often vertigo occurs. Here are just a few things that may lead to an attack: 

  • Increased stress or anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Injuries
  • Bright lights
  • Certain over-the-counter or prescription medications (if you believe a prescription drug is causing your vertigo, discuss this with a doctor – never change your dosage on your own)
  • Sudden changes in head position

How Can Past Injuries Relate to the Onset of Vertigo?

Vertigo always has an underlying cause. However, it is interesting to note that many of those underlying causes begin in the aftermath of a head or neck injury. What may contribute to this phenomenon?

When a person experiences head or neck trauma, the upper cervical spine can become misaligned, even slightly. This, in turn, can create the right conditions in the body for the spinning sensation to occur. Here are a few examples:

  • Brainstem function – Because the C1 (atlas) surrounds the brainstem, it only takes a slight misalignment for this bone to go from a protector to applying pressure to inhibit brainstem function. 
  • Cerebral blood flow – The cervical spine facilitates blood flow to the brain. Any misalignment can inhibit this proper blood flow and lead to CNS problems. 
  • Vestibular function – When the top bones in the neck become misaligned, this can lead to changes in the surrounding soft tissue. Some of those changes may affect the Eustachian tubes. If this occurs, the ears may fail to drain properly, resulting in conditions that cause vertigo. 

Is there a Potential Source of Natural Relief for Recurring Spinning Sensations?

This understanding of the role of previous head and neck injuries and their impact on your sense of balance brings us to the potential of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care in providing natural relief for recurring vertigo episodes. The principles of this technique are deeply rooted in addressing the issues highlighted above – the intricate relationship between motor output, vestibular system function, and their collective impact on one's perception of motion and orientation.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care focuses on the unique movements of the neck bones, which, while enabling a wide range of motions, also make the area susceptible to problems that can lead to vertigo. The slightest misalignment can cause subluxation, leading to pressure on crucial nerves and the brainstem. These components are instrumental in relaying messages within the nervous system; any interference can distort them, affecting the brain's interpretation of its surroundings.

This miscommunication often manifests as vertigo, especially in individuals with a history of neck injuries from sports, concussions, whiplash, or even from maintaining poor posture. Addressing and correcting the alignment of the neck and spine is critical. Without this adjustment, the brain processes mixed signals, perpetuating the sensation of false motion.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.