Why You Should Check Your Neck if You Have Vertigo


Vertigo is a form of dizziness that causes a false feeling of movement. People going through a vertigo episode may feel they are spinning or being pulled to the left or right, or that their environment is whirling.  

A List of Vertigo Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, vertigo is not a health condition. Rather, it is a symptom that accompanies many vestibular conditions. Besides vertigo, you might experience several other symptoms if you have a vestibular problem. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Unsteadiness or loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pressure in the ear
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Fatigue
  • Neck or back pain

These disabling symptoms cause stress and anxiety in patients due to the anticipation of another attack. Vertigo attacks can disrupt the social and work lives of patients and hinder their ability to accomplish daily activities. 

What is the role of the vestibular system in vertigo? Also, how is vertigo related to the neck, spine, and brain? Lastly, what can help to address the root cause of vertigo? Read on to find out the answers. 

Explaining the Vestibular System

Many people often take their balance for granted until something goes awry. The vestibular system is the body system that manages our sense of balance. It gleans information from our senses and reacts by regulating our eye movements and muscle movements to maintain balance. The vestibular system involves mainly the inner ear, brain, and brainstem. 

Vestibular disorders are common. One study shows that about 69 million Americans have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction. Number one on the list of vestibular disorder symptoms is vertigo. 

The vestibular system, the eyes (sense of sight), and skin (sense of touch) relay sensory input. Information from these three parts travels as signals through the nerves and then enter the brainstem and other parts of the brain. After processing them, the brain relays the signals back through the nerves to help the body regulate eye movements and muscles to ensure proper posture. This is how the balance system works. 

The Relation of the Neck and Vertigo

A study has observed the common occurrence that vertigo begins to develop after patients have incurred a head or neck injury. Vertigo also seems to have some connection to head movement and position. What’s the reason behind this? 

Apart from supporting the body and allowing movements, the spine is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and the brainstem. The uppermost part of the spine is the neck (also called the cervical spine).

The brainstem runs through two unique bones of the upper cervical spine: the atlas (C1) and axis (C2). The C1 and C2 vertebrae are different from the rest of the bones of the spine:

  • They support the weight of the head, which is about 10-12 pounds in an average adult.
  • They make possible the full range of motion of the head. This encompasses the ability to turn left and right, look up and down, and tilt the head from side to side. 

However, the unique things about these bones are also their weaknesses. Because of the mobility of C1 and C2 vertebrae, they are susceptible to misaligning. Misalignments can occur due to an injury, accident, and natural wear and tear. 

Misalignment of either the atlas or axis can result in the tilting of the head to one side, and the rest of the spine compensating for the uneven weight of the head. Furthermore, it can cause inflammation of the brainstem and the nerves surrounding it, which facilitate the processing of signals that help keep you in balance. Vertigo can arise from this situation. For this reason, you should have your neck examined if you have vertigo.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for Vertigo Patients

A natural form of care exists that recognizes the connection of the vertebrae of the upper neck and the brainstem — that is none other than upper cervical chiropractic.

Since they protect the brainstem, if the C1 and C2 vertebrae misalign, the brainstem may not be able to perform its normal functions. The inability of the brainstem to process signals correctly can mislead the brain into thinking you or your environment is spinning. Vertigo attacks may become a common experience for you after that, until the correction of the root cause.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Success Story

Let us share with you one success story of a vertigo patient. A 23-year-old woman turned to an upper cervical chiropractor after suffering from a mild concussion that she got from a slip and fall injury. She often complained of vertigo along with chronic headaches. An examination revealed that she had an atlas misalignment. 

Only a week following her first upper cervical adjustment, the patient reported the disappearance of her headaches and vertigo attacks.  Her vertigo never showed up again.

If you can relate to her story and you are suffering from vertigo, allow an upper cervical chiropractor to examine your neck. It could be the solution to your vertigo.

Upper cervical chiropractic care corrects atlas misalignment and enables the bone hold in its correct place for as long as possible. This enables the body to heal naturally and return to its optimal function.

Find out more about how upper cervical chiropractic care can help resolve your vertigo or any conditions you have been dealing with. Contact a doctor in your area for a consultation.

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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.