What Causes Disequilibrium?


Disequilibrium is an imbalance or the feeling that you are about to fall over. On the other hand, vertigo occurs when a person falsely senses spinning movement as if he or she moves around, when, in fact, there is no movement happening at all. 

Disequilibrium vs. Vertigo

Do not confuse vertigo with disequilibrium. Understanding the differences between disequilibrium and vertigo can help you pin down which one you have. Symptoms of disequilibrium include:

  • Feeling that the floor is tilted
  • Sensing you are about to fall down
  • Feeling as if you are floating

Disequilibrium can be due to conditions involving the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance and coordination. It can also stem from diseases such as spondylosis, Parkinson's disease, or diabetes. 

On the other hand, these symptoms accompany vertigo attacks:

  • Congestion in the ear
  • Tinnitus
  • Loss of speech
  • Hearing loss
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of vision

These warning signs may originate either in the inner ear or the central nervous system (CNS). When you face your doctor for detailed patient history, it would be critical to provide all details regarding your symptoms. It would help locate where the problem comes from and the condition that causes them. 

Some people have the wrong impression of what vertigo is. Vertigo is just a symptom associated with a problem in the inner ear, not a condition. BPPV is among the most common types of vertigo. BPPV stands for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo that occurs whenever you move your head to a different position. 

Figuring Out the Cause of Your Vertigo 

Some of the common causes of vertigo are BPPV, Meniere’s disease, and vestibular migraines. However, there are more pertinent details that your doctor will need to pin down the culprit behind the spinning sensation you feel. Does your vertigo occur whenever you move your head? Did you experience any head or neck trauma in the past? And, do you feel any ear pain? Do you have family members with the same problems? The answer to these questions will provide valuable information. For example, issues that run in the family may impact your ears, and bring out vertigo. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Renal failure
  • Infectious illnesses
  • Neurological disorders

Certain medications have vertigo as one of their side-effects. Such medicines are often those prescribed for pain, seizures, anxiety, and depression. Remember to be honest with your doctor, and please share information like: 

  • Are you taking any over-the-counter medication?
  • Or illegal drugs?

These two may link with vertigo symptoms.

How We Process Signals About Body Motion and Position

Every time the head moves, your eyes, and the vestibular labyrinth would sense the movement. Also, the semicircular canals within the inner ear would detect it whenever the head turns. The saccule and utricle would sense the linear head movements. Further, the joint receptors and muscles in the neck, limbs, and spine detect any motion. 

The inferior and superior vestibular nerve delivers the signals from every movement through the auditory canal. Then these signals continue into the vestibular nuclei. Next, they go to your brain, to become interpreted as movement. The eyes have an essential function in sensing movement. The visual system transmits messages and signals from the retina through the optic nerves and several other optical transmitters. Finally, the information collected is interpreted by the parietal and frontal cortex, which would sense when the head moves and when the environment is in motion, similar to when you’re riding a truck. The visual and vestibular sensors’ signals combine at various levels in the central nervous system (CNS), specifically, the cerebellum and the brainstem.

Why Vertigo Episodes Happen

Now that we have a better understanding of how our brain can process signals of motion, it can shed light on what an episode of vertigo has to do with alterations in the labyrinth’s purpose. Vertigo can be due to several factors, such as:

  • Temporal bone fracture
  • Meniere’s disease
  • A blood clot
  • Cerebellopontine angle tumor (this is quite rare)
  • Perilymph fistula
  • Bacterial labyrinthitis
  • Viral labyrinthitis
  • Damage of the vestibular nuclei at the brainstem
  • Head or neck trauma

Figuring out the underlying cause of your vertigo episodes will be vital in finding a solution. Medications can only help with the symptoms temporarily. When the medicine wears off, the vertigo attacks can still come back repeatedly. Also, drugs have another drawback. It includes dangerous side effects. Don’t worry, and don’t lose hope because nowadays, there is a proven and extremely effective natural way of getting vertigo relief long-term!

A Natural Care Option For People With Vertigo

The brainstem is a critical component of the CNS. When the brainstem encounters problems, it is often the cause behind most types of vertigo attacks. 

Multiple studies have shown that people with disequilibrium, dizziness, Ménière's disease and vertigo frequently suffer from an upper cervical misalignment, particularly in the C1 or atlas vertebra.

Disequilibrium and Upper Neck Research

Proprioceptive Cervicogenic Dizziness: Basic science and clinical evidence suggest that cervical spine disorders can lead to dizziness. The cervical spine has highly developed proprioceptive mechanisms that can contribute to dizziness when disrupted. Several studies have found associations between cervical joint position errors, neck muscle dysfunction, and dizziness.

Improvement of Dizziness with Upper Cervical Chiropractic: This case series describes 8 patients with dizziness who experienced improvement following an upper cervical chiropractic technique and individualized vestibular rehabilitation program. The authors hypothesize that the craniocervical junction misalignment may have contributed to the patients' dizziness, though they note it is unlikely the sole cause.

Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Treatment of Cervicogenic Dizziness: A case report describes a patient with cervicogenic dizziness who experienced reduced pain, dizziness, and improved range of motion after receiving chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment focused on the thoracic and upper cervical spine. The authors suggest spinal manipulative therapy may be an effective treatment for cervicogenic dizziness.

Upper Cervical Spine Dysfunction and Dizziness: This review article discusses the relationship between upper cervical spine structure/function and dizziness, including potential mechanisms by which upper cervical spine disorders could contribute to dizziness. The authors highlight the need for further research in this area.

Cervicogenic Dizziness Associated with Craniocervical Instability: A case report describes a patient with cervicogenic dizziness associated with craniocervical instability, who experienced improvement with a multimodal treatment approach including upper cervical care.

Another study observed 60 people with different kinds of Ménière's disease a condition that involves vertigo/dizziness/disequilibrium, tinnitus and hearing loss. Upon investigation, researchers reported that 56 of the patients had an accident or trauma that involved their head or neck before their symptoms appeared. Each patient had a misalignment in their upper cervical spine or upper neck. Each patient received upper cervical chiropractic care specific for each one’s particular needs. After one to six months of upper cervical care, every patient reported significant improvements in their symptoms! Including forty-eight of them who had 100% resolution of their symptoms!

In summary, the available research, including case studies and reviews, suggests a potential link between upper cervical spine dysfunction and disequilibrium/dizziness, and that upper cervical chiropractic care may be a useful intervention for some patients with disequilibrium.

Find an upper cervical specialist today to investigate your head and neck to see if it is the key to ending your disequilibrium symptoms.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

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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.