What is Visual Vertigo? All You Need to Know


Visual vertigo is vertigo that sets in or worsens in situations involving intense visual stimulation or excessive visible conflict. In other words, motion-sensitivity. The leading reason this occurs is due to a sensory conflict or mismatch between the vestibular system, the visual, and the musculoskeletal system. 

In theory, there exists a discrepancy between what the person expects and the external information he or she receives. As a result, there is an overdependence on the vision to sustain balance and symptoms linger. 

There are several causes of visual vertigo and motion sensitivity symptoms:

  • Head injury
  • Labyrinthitis 
  • Migraine related vertigo
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Post-concussive and cervicogenic dizziness/whiplash-associated dizziness

Visual Vertigo Triggers

What triggers visual vertigo? Usually, the symptoms develop a few days or a few weeks after experiencing an acute peripheral vestibular disorder. It often involves the inner ear, the balance organ. As a result, people with visual vertigo experience spinning dizziness or rotatory vertigo. 

Moreover, visual problems can also cause visual vertigo due to reduced sensory information input from the body’s skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joints. Patients with a vestibular disorder and those who develop a visual dependence are prone to exhibit visual vertigo.

What Is It Like To Have Visual Vertigo?

You may wonder what it feels like to have visual vertigo. People with the condition usually experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Vertigo and disorientation
  • Tiredness 
  • Nausea
  • Imbalance (difficulty maintaining balance)

In addition, visual vertigo can also lead to worsening of the following:

  • Psychological disorders
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperventilation
  • Panic attacks

Causes of Visual Vertigo and Motion Sensitivity

Any of the following conditions can cause an episode of visual vertigo or motion sensitivity:

  • Moving traffic
  • Traveling in a car
  • A boat ride
  • A plane ride
  • Using the elevator or escalator
  • The motion of the visual surroundings

Examples of moving visible objects or movement in your surroundings would include:

  • Scrolling on a tablet or PC
  • Running water
  • Moving crowds
  • Clouds in the sky
  • Leaves blowing in the wind

Seeing patterns like the following can further cause visual vertigo:

  • Moving stripe shirts
  • Wallpapers with bright colors and a lot of lines 
  • Colored railings from escalators or the roads
  • Lights flickering through various things
  • Most optical illusion pictures
  • Virtual reality movies or videos

Care Options for Visual Vertigo

Visual vertigo care involves personalized vestibular rehabilitation and educating the patient with three essential compensation strategies. Firstly, Adaptation. Next, Compensation. Lastly, Habituation.

  • Adaptation

The balance organs in both ears work together in harmony. If one side ceases to work correctly, then there will be an imbalance of information, which often causes rotatory vertigo.

After a vertigo episode, the patient might swerve off to one side while walking. The brain will need to adapt to new information. Doing so will help the balance system to adjust to these new changes. Finally, use customized exercises to provide the brain with the information needed to make the proper changes. The brain will adapt and learn from new stimuli.

  • Compensation

The brain has a memory bank that contains information from your body, eyes, and balance organs. When there is a disturbance within the balance system, the memory bank loses vital information. For this reason, balance retraining exercises can help to restore this function with new information. New information will help strengthen the balance system. As a result, it will start reducing your vertigo episodes and also improve your balance.

  • Habituation

Regular repetition of actions that bring on the symptoms of dizziness or vertigo will eventually help the body become accustomed to those actions. Thus, this new habit will strengthen your neural pathways.

The chosen activities tailored for you will help identify the motions and positions that provoke symptoms. Eventually, over time, with repeated actions, the vertigo symptoms will be fewer. Then further exercises will help.

Studies showed that patients who have motion sensitivity could benefit from optokinetic stimulation optokinetic stimulation (OKS). Using virtual reality equipment can reduce visual-vestibular conflict. By this time, the patient can progress from a visual dependent postural control to a better proprioceptive postural control by using vestibule-proprioceptive cues.

Consult an Upper Cervical Chiropractor

Upper cervical chiropractic can help resolve visual vertigo and many other types of vertigo. If you have ever asked, “why I am suffering from visual vertigo”, it may be due to an out of positioned bones in your upper cervical spine.

If the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae shift out of alignment, they automatically put stress on the brainstem. Hence, tension or pressure pushes the brainstem to transmit the wrong signals to the brain. In short, you experience visual vertigo because of the false signal about your body’s location in relation to your environment. 

Upper cervical vertigo chiropractors make sure that the atlas and axis vertebrae are in their proper alignment. Certainly, if a subluxation affects this delicate upper cervical region, they can customize the adjustments to focus on the patient’s specific needs. In a particular study, a woman experienced significant improvements in her vertigo symptoms after the successful realignment of her vertebrae. 

Therefore, seek an upper cervical vertigo chiropractor near you to relieve your vertigo. You can use our website to make your search easier.

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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.