Vertigo is usually a symptom of either a vestibular condition or a neurological condition. On occasion, it can be a symptom of something serious like a stroke or heart attack, but we are hoping our readers would call 911 if they were experiencing symptoms of an emergency like that. What we will discuss today are several of the less serious causes of vertigo. You shouldn’t stop your search for relief just because the doctor says vertigo won’t kill you.
First of all, “getting older” is not going to be on our list. You don’t just get dizzy and start falling because you hit a certain age. That’s just an excuse since about half of vertigo patients never find out what the underlying cause is. Second, vertigo can cause serious falls. Each year, one in three seniors has a fall. Some are never able to return to an independent lifestyle, and other may not survive at all. So finding help for vertigo could be a matter of life and death.
With that in mind, here are a few things that could be at the source of your vertigo.
The Vestibular System and Vertigo
Most cases of vertigo are pinned on the ear since the inner ear and vestibular nerve send signals to the brain that determine balance and spatial orientation. In fact, NASA started a lot of vertigo research due to the effects that space travel was having on the vestibular system.
That having been said, many vestibular causes of vertigo are called idiopathic, meaning that the underlying cause is not known. So it is possible that many vestibular causes of vertigo are really coming from somewhere else but being attributed to the ear because of the role it plays in the body’s ability to balance itself.
The Central Nervous System and Vertigo
Some of the more controversial causes of vertigo come directly from the central nervous system. Since the brain has to interpret the signals from the ear, anything that interferes could still cause vertigo. Here are some examples:
- Migraines – This neurological disorder is most known for debilitating headaches. However, about 40% of patients experience vertigo as a migraine symptom. Even patients who deal with silent migraines (headache-free migraines) may still be coping with vertigo.
- Multiple sclerosis – MS occurs when the body attacks the nerves and destroys the myelin sheath. The result is the formation of scar tissue, and vertigo is just one of the many and varied symptoms.
- Medication side effects – Some drugs change how the brain works. Others affect the vascular system and could result in the brain getting less blood and oxygen. Either way, the primary problem is occurring in the brain and not the ears.
These are just a few examples to show the link between the central nervous system and vertigo. But why does vertigo often occur following trauma?
A Third Solution – The Cervical Spine and Vertigo
Interestingly, both the ears and the CNS can be affected by upper cervical misalignments. This is because of the proximity of the ears and atlas (top vertebra in the neck). The atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem, but it can quickly become an impedance if it is not aligned properly. Since the cervical spine supplies safe passage of blood to the brain, misalignments can also affect the CNS in this way.
So a pattern emerges rather quickly. An accident or injury of some sort occurs. Some patients develop vertigo right away. Others think the injury has healed, all the while it is working below the surface, affecting the ears or the CNS. Months or perhaps even years later vertigo begins, usually along with other symptoms that can further help to identify the issue.
So what can you do if you think this may be the underlying cause of your vertigo? We would like to introduce you to a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on this very problem.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Upper cervical chiropractors are in a unique position to offer help to vertigo patients, particularly if you are suffering from an atlas misalignment that could potentially be the underlying cause of your symptoms. In fact, in one study of 60 vertigo patients with atlas subluxations, 48 found complete relief from vertigo with upper cervical chiropractic adjustments and the other 12 all experienced significant improvements.
What sets upper cervical chiropractic apart?
- Focus – Because we just focus on the top bones in the neck, we are experts at detecting misalignments and adjusting them accurately.
- Precision – Measurements are taken using diagnostic imaging so that gentle adjustments can be administered to correct misalignments down to fractions of a millimeter.
- Safe – Adjustments are so precise and gentle that it is safe for the whole family. So bring your newborn and your grandparents. Anyone with an upper cervical misalignment will benefit.
For these reasons and many more, patients are getting excited about this natural and cost-effective form of care. To learn more, find a practitioner in your area and schedule a no-obligation consultation. A history of head or neck trauma would definitely point to an atlas misalignment but wear and tear from poor posture or other habits can also play a role.
If you are getting ready to give up on finding relief from vertigo, don’t throw in the towel yet. Join the many upper cervical patients who are getting health benefits from this precise and gentle form of care.