Vertigo is the uncontrollable feeling of movement or spinning. Either you or the world around you feels a rotational or other sensation. Vertigo in multiple sclerosis is often due to the existence or growth of new lesions on the brainstem, the part of the brain that controls the body’s balance. About 20% of patients with MS experience vertigo in multiple sclerosis.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Dizziness and vertigo can be symptoms of multiple sclerosis. MS is a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the protective layer around the nerve cells (myelin). As a result, it leads to scar tissue or lesions and interrupts the communication of nerve signals. This dramatically affects the central nervous system.
Below are some of the known symptoms of multiple sclerosis:
- Vision problems
- Cognitive issues
- Speech difficulties
- Handshaking or tremors
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Tingling sensations or numbness
- Pain or muscle spasms
- Dizziness or vertigo
Dizziness and Vertigo in Multiple Sclerosis
People who live with multiple sclerosis often experience dizzy spells. Out of the blue, they may feel unsteady, lightheaded, or off-balanced. Although less common than dizziness, patients may also experience vertigo. Vertigo is one indication of an MS flare-up. Vertigo in multiple sclerosis originates from the damaged areas or lesions in the intricate pathways that register spatial, visual, and other input to the brain that are necessary to generate and maintain the body’s balance (equilibrium).
Constant dizziness or vertigo can become incapacitating for anyone who experiences it. In fact, the Journal of Neurology reported that acute vertigo is the reason behind some of the disability and symptoms that happen in MS. Vertigo can hamper a person’s ability to do everyday tasks and may increase the risk of falls. If you experience vertigo while diagnosed with MS, it’s best to consult a neurotologist or an otoneurologist as they are the experts in both inner ear and neurology departments. They should be able to confirm whether your vertigo is related to MS.
Safety Measures During MS-Related Vertigo
People with MS may experience weakness, trouble walking, and fatigue. As a result, vertigo, dizziness, and other balance problems make MS patients more vulnerable to injuries due to falls. Below are some safety measures patients can apply at home to help reduce the risk of falling when bouts of vertigo happen.
- Sit down when you’re dizzy or feel a spinning sensation coming on.
- Keep away tripping hazards like throw rugs.
- Install handrails or grab bars.
- Use a walker or cane when walking around.
- Utilize a shower chair.
Vertigo Management Options for MS Patients
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, there are two common ways to manage vertigo in multiple sclerosis — through physical therapy and medications.
Since sudden changes in head position can trigger vertigo, a physical therapist can plan out an exercise program that would minimize the negative impacts of these positional changes. Epley and Semont maneuvers are common exercises that can treat positional vertigo.
Doctors often prescribe several medicines for people with chronic vertigo. Antihistamines such as Antivert, Benadryl, and Dramamine can relieve vertigo, nausea, and motion sickness. A scopolamine transdermal patch is another treatment option given for patients with motion sickness and associated vertigo.
To reduce the activity in the parts of the central nervous system that regulate the inner ear, some patients take Benzodiazepines, including Valium and Klonopin. However, these drugs may come with side effects that can be debilitating and harmful for patients such as headaches, vomiting, blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness, and even more balance problems.
A Natural Solution for Vertigo in Multiple Sclerosis
Many studies have established the connection between the upper cervical spine and health conditions that cause vertigo, such as multiple sclerosis. Remarkable research examined a 47-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis. Her symptoms started at the age of 44. After just four months of receiving upper cervical chiropractic care, all her symptoms were gone, including vertigo.
Another study involved 81 patients who had either multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Researchers discovered that all the patients had misalignments in the upper cervical spine. 91% of the MS patients experienced sizeable improvements in their symptoms after getting upper cervical chiropractic care.
If you are suffering from vertigo due to multiple sclerosis, you may experience the same outstanding results as the study above through upper cervical chiropractic. This unique form of therapy helps boost the central nervous system. It can be just what your body needs to avoid the worsening of the condition or to help alleviate the existing symptoms like vertigo.
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Can Help
As mentioned above, interruption of the communication of nerve signals brings on vertigo and other symptoms of MS. Once a misalignment in either the C1 or C2 vertebra in the upper cervical spine exists, the brainstem may not function properly, resulting in the sending of wrong signals between the brain and body. The inevitable results are vertigo and other symptoms of MS.
Upper cervical chiropractic care is a natural technique with a high success rate in resolving vertigo. Without the use of drugs or invasive surgeries, the bones in the upper cervical spine can return to proper alignment. Moreover, the process involves precise and gentle adjustments only.
Discover more about upper cervical chiropractic and its benefits by setting up an appointment with a chiropractor near your area. Don’t wait for another vertigo episode before you decide to regain control of your health.