Whether a balance disorder makes it tough to stand and walk or causes you to feel like you’re moving even when lying down (as is the case with vertigo) these disorders can be debilitating. What causes balance disorders? Is there a natural way to find relief? We’re going to answer these questions, but first we need to discuss what the vestibular system is – the body’s means of balancing itself.
What Is the Vestibular System?
The vestibular system is the part of the body that controls balance and spatial orientation. Believe it or not, this takes place in the inner ear. The inner ear has 3 semicircular canals that are filled with a fluid called endolymph as well as tiny crystals that move around in the canals. The Eustachian tube drains excess fluid. The vestibular nerve carries signals from the ear to the brain.
Other parts of the body also contribute to the sensory data provided by the vestibular system. This includes the eyes, joints, and muscles. As a result of compiling this data, the brain can tell where the body is in connection with your surroundings including the floor, items in the room, and even moving objects.
However, when something goes wrong, a balance disorder results. Let’s consider 6 balance disorders more closely.
Vertigo is the sensation that a person or the things around him are moving. Spinning is a common description, although it can also feel like rocking or slanting. While a problem in the central nervous system can cause vertigo, it is more often attributed to complications in the inner ear. The most common cause of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This refers to vertigo caused by certain movements of the head. If one of the crystals in the endolymph gets out of the inner ear canals, this can cause BPPV.
This is an infection that occurs inside the labyrinth or inner ear. The inflammation is usually caused by the flu or an upper respiratory infection. Balance issues and dizziness are the results. The good news is that these problems usually resolve when the underlying virus or infection is cleared up.
#3 Meniere’s Disease
This a rare vestibular condition (about 0.2% of the population), but it is growing more common. The cause is often attributed to excess fluid in the ear. As a result, a low-sodium diet is often recommended to reduce fluid retention. Along with severe bouts of vertigo, Meniere’s also presents with tinnitus (ringing in the ear), hearing loss, and a sensation of fullness in the ear that is affected (this is usually a one-sided condition, although both ears can be affected).
#4 Motion Sickness
This is related to vertigo and is commonly triggered by being on a boat or in another moving vehicle. The rocking of the boat or speeding up, slowing down, and turns in a vehicle cause a person to feel dizzy, nauseous, and possibly even cause vomiting. If a person continues to feel the motion after it has stopped, then it could be another condition. For example, a person may still feel like he or she is rocking long after returning to land. This is referred to as Mal de Debarquement syndrome.
#5 Vestibular Neuronitis
Don’t confuse this with labyrinthitis, which is inflammation in the labyrinth of the ear. Vestibular neuronitis is inflammation of the vestibular nerve. This too can be caused by a virus or an upper respiratory infection. The result is debilitating attacks of vertigo.
#6 Perilymph Fistula
This occurs when endolymph leaks into the middle ear. It usually only occurs following trauma such as a head injury or a sudden pressure change (i.e., from scuba diving). Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, and growing increasingly unsteady when active. Symptoms should subside when at rest. It is possible for a baby to be born with this condition.
Finding Natural Relief from Vertigo and Other Balance Disorders
If you suffer from chronic vertigo or any of the other balance problems discussed above, you may be searching for a natural way to deal with your symptoms. We’d like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic. How does a gentle adjustment of the top bone of the spine help with balance and spatial orientation issues?
The C1 vertebra (atlas) protects the brainstem. However, a misalignment can put pressure on the brainstem, an integral part of receiving signals from the vestibular nerve. Also, a misalignment in this area can affect blood flow to the brain.
The atlas is also in close proximity to the ears. As a result, a long-term misalignment could affect Eustachian tube function leading to conditions like Meniere’s disease. It is no wonder that in one study involving 300 Meniere’s patients, 97% of the patients saw a 90% or more improvement in vertigo and other symptoms under upper cervical chiropractic care.
Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on the top bone of the neck. Adjustments are very precise as diagnostic imaging is used to pinpoint misalignments to hundredths of a degree. Gentle corrections last longer and make this a more cost-effective form of care.
To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care and to find out if this may be a viable option to help your balance disorder, contact a practice in your area today. A no-obligation consultation may be your first step on the way to getting a vestibular problem under control.