Have you ever rolled over in bed or stood up too fast and had the feeling that the room or you yourself were spinning? Children often bring on vertigo by spinning around and around until they fall down or asking someone to spin them faster and faster on a merry-go-round. To them it’s fun. But as an adult, it is not much fun to be driving your car or walking down the sidewalk and suddenly be hit with a spinning sensation you cannot control. Vertigo attacks can be scary and cause you to miss out on important events in life. In the following article, we are going to discuss how the balance system works in connection with motor output and how you can find relief for vertigo.
The Balance System and Motor Output
When you are in balance it means you are maintaining the body’s center of mass over its base of support. If your balance system is working well, you will have no problem moving about in your environment. Balance is supported by a complex system including input from your eyes, touch, movement, and motor output to the eyes and body muscles. We are going to take a closer look at motor output and see how it works. If injury or disease affects any of these systems, your balance will be negatively impacted.
Sensory integration takes place when information is received by the brain via the eyes, muscles and joints, and vestibular organs. If this information does not match with what the brain thinks the body is doing, vertigo can ensue. Motor output happens after sensory integration. The brainstem sends impulses from the brain to the muscles that control the eyes, the head and neck, the trunk, and the legs. This helps you to maintain your balance and have clear vision while on the move.
- Motor output to the muscles and joints: Babies learn to walk and keep their balance by practice and repetition. Impulses are sent from the sensory receptors to the brainstem and then to the muscles forming a new pathway in the brain. It becomes easier and easier for these impulses to travel on this pathway as the baby walks over and over again. This is referred to as facilitation, and it helps the baby maintain balance during any activity. There is evidence to support the fact that this type of synaptic activity continues to occur throughout a person’s lifetime depending on what type of environment he or she is in. It is the reason why athletes practice so vigorously and why dancers perform their moves over and over to perfect them. After a while, even a move once difficult to achieve becomes routine as the brain forms established pathways.
What does all of this mean? If a problem occurs with one of your sensory inputs (eyes, touch, movement, and motor output), this process of facilitation can help the balance system reset itself and work at achieving balance once again. However, if something is continuously hindering this system from proper function, additional help may be required.
- The eyes: The vestibular system (located in the inner ear) sends motor control signals through the nervous system to the muscles of the eyes using an automatic function referred to as the vestibulo-ocular reflex or VOR. So, imagine your head is not moving. Then the number of signals your brain is getting from the right side of the vestibular organs is the same amount from the left side. However, when your head turns to look at something to the right of you, the number of signals from the right ear increases and the number from the left ear decreases. This difference in signals is responsible for eye movements and keeping your gaze still during active head motion.
The Balance System and Vertigo
As you can see from this information, the human balance system is very complicated. It relies on feedback from a number of sources, any of which can be damaged or disrupted due to injury, disease, or simply getting older. If your balance system is not working properly, you may have dizziness, vertigo, visual disturbances, nausea, concentration problems, and fatigue. Because this system is so complex, it makes diagnosing and caring for conditions of the balance system very difficult. But, that is no reason to lose hope. There is an area of care seeing great success in caring for its vertigo patients.
Finding Help for Vertigo
One of the things impacting your balance system can be a misalignment of the top bones of the neck. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are very interesting bones. They have a unique shape and allow the head to move in many directions. They also act as a protection for the brainstem. However, if they become misaligned, they can actually cause the brainstem to be stressed. Since the brainstem is the communication highway between the brain and body, signals being sent to the brain may become misconstrued. As a result, if the brainstem tells the brain the body is in motion when it is not in motion, vertigo can be the end result.
Therefore, it makes sense that the opposite would be true. Correcting the misalignment can result in proper signals being sent once again to the brain, and vertigo may become a thing of the past. This is exactly what upper cervical chiropractors have been doing with their patients. They use a gentle method to help the bones realign. They do not have to resort to popping or cracking the neck or back to get good results. Rather, the technique used encourages the bones to realign themselves more naturally. This helps the body to heal from the misalignment and restores proper communication, leading to fewer vertigo spells. Some patients see it go away entirely.
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