What Vertigo Is – and What It Isn’t


Vertigo is a term often thrown around to refer to many things such as feeling dizzy or a fear of heights, but these are misuses of the word. To understand better what vertigo is – and what it isn’t – let’s define this common symptom. Having a better understanding of vertigo would also make way for better relief alternatives and results.  

Vertigo – What It Is

Vertigo is the false sense of movement or spinning of either yourself or the environment. The movement may differ for every person suffering from it. Some patients describe a spinning or whirling feeling, while some experience a sense of being pulled over to one side. It is a possible symptom of an underlying medical disorder.

Vertigo – What It Isn't

Vertigo alone is not a diagnosis nor a condition. People often mistake vertigo for one of these sensations below. However, vertigo is a sensation of spinning or another form of movement, and these are entirely different. 

  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of heights
  • Feeling off-balance
  • Feeling "spaced out"

Common Reasons Behind Vertigo

The whole process of maintaining our sense of balance is pretty complex. The brain receives input from various peripheral sensory organs, mainly these three:

  • Eyes
  • Muscles and joints
  • The vestibular system 

The vestibular system provides information about equilibrium, motion, and spatial orientation. All the body parts mentioned above must function well and coordinate with each other to relay signals to the brain about the necessary elements for the body to stay balanced. 

Many factors can cause problems in any of these components, such as injuries, health disorders, aging, medications, and even psychological factors. Vertigo can also be due to issues within the inner ear and brain (cerebellum, brainstem, and the nerves that connect these parts to the inner ear). When there is a problem in any of these components, vertigo can set in. 

Conditions Associated with Vertigo

Vestibular Migraine

This involves traditional migraine symptoms such as extreme headache, sensory sensitivities, visual disturbances, as well as vertigo. 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

The most common disorder that brings on sudden and short-lived episodes of vertigo. It often occurs with just simple changes in head position, such as when one rolls over in bed. 


The bony part of the ear, which has the organs of balance and hearing, is the labyrinth. Infection of the inner ear, whether due to bacteria or a virus, can lead to inflammation of the labyrinth and the onset of vertigo.

Vestibular Neuronitis

The vestibular nerve connects the inner ear to the brain to keep the body’s sense of balance. Inflammation of the vestibular nerve can instigate sudden and severe vertigo attacks.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's bring on sudden and disabling bouts of vertigo. Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) can also accompany the spinning sensation.

The Link Between Vertigo, the Spine, and The Nervous System

Central Nervous System

What’s the relation between the central nervous system and vertigo? The nervous system controls and facilitates vital functions, so the body maintains its sense of balance and overall health. Concerning vertigo, the nervous system does the following:

  • Regulates the sense of proprioception (self-movement and body position) in the arms and legs
  • Controls eyesight and eye movement
  • Manages the vestibular system (responsible for movement, equilibrium, and rotation)

The information from the sensory organs travels through the nerves toward the brain. The brain may receive incorrect signals about the body’s position when problems arise or when there is a mismatch in the information from the sensory organs. The distortion of signals can result in bouts of vertigo. 

Spine (Upper Neck)

On the other hand, the spine provides a layer of protection for the brain and spinal cord. It ensures that the communication between the parts of the central nervous system is smooth and unrestricted. However, the spine may misalign due to injury or wear and tear.

Vertigo patients should be particularly concerned about the upper part of the neck (upper cervical spine). This area, along with the brainstem, serves as a relay center for the assimilation of all the sensory input from various parts of the body responsible for balance. 

The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae protect the brainstem. These two bones are unique as they carry the weight of the head and enable movements of the head. But then again, these two functions also make the C1 and C2 vertebrae susceptible to misaligning.

Getting Rid of Vertigo Naturally 

One possible root cause of vertigo is any misalignment in either the atlas or axis vertebra. Therefore, correction of these misalignments through the help of an upper cervical chiropractor may stop the uncontrollable episodes of vertigo.

Upper cervical chiropractic care is a specialization within the chiropractic practice that focuses on this crucial area of the spine. The upper cervical spine has a far-reaching impact on the overall function of the body. When a person dealing with vertigo turns to upper cervical chiropractic care, he or she can expect to receive a gentle and customized method involving x-rays and diagnostic imaging to measure the misalignments with precision. Every adjustment is specific and tailored to the needs of each person. 

If you have been living with vertigo and are seeking a solution, pay a visit to an upper cervical chiropractor near you. You are an ideal candidate for upper cervical chiropractic if you have any history of a head or neck injury, whether minor or significant. Schedule a consultation today and take your first step on the road of becoming vertigo-free.  




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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.