Vertigo is the sensation that you or the things around you are spinning about. In fact, the word vertigo comes from the Latin “vertere” meaning to turn and the suffix “igo” meaning a condition of turning about. Vertigo is different from but related to dizziness, lightheadedness, and unsteadiness. In this article, we are going to focus on cervical vertigo, what it means, and where to find proper help, including visiting a vertigo chiropractor based in Kelowna, British Columbia.
Cervical vertigo is brought about by a specific neck posture. It is often traced back to changes in the inner ear, head, or neck region possibly due to head or neck trauma. And, even though the name sounds a bit intimidating, it really just means vertigo that is brought about by a problem in the neck (cervico) and a vestibular disorder of the inner ear. Cervical vertigo is often accompanied by:
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ear congestion
- Ear pain
- Distorted vision when shaking the head, spots in the field of vision, and loss of vision in half of the visual field
- Loss of balance while walking, standing, or sitting
- A sense of spinning
- Dizziness when the head is moved
- Unsteady posture
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing
- Neuropathy of the arms and hands
Some people may experience rare bouts of dizziness, while others suffer from recurring attacks. Generally, the episodes only last about a minute.
Causes of Cervical Vertigo
A number of theories abound as to what actually causes this type of vertigo to occur. It is possibly due to compression of the vertebral arteries in the neck, obstructing blood flow when the head is turned. Spasms of the vertebral arteries can also be to blame. Sometimes the vertebral arteries are damaged due to severe stretching – such as when one lifts weights. To determine the position of the head, the brain is sent signals from the neck, the inner ear, and the eyes. If the neck muscles are tight or tensed up, the input from this area may not be correct, leading to possible vertigo. Whiplash injuries have also been seen as a possible cause as they can cause the neck to come out of proper alignment. A few other theories include:
- Cervical cord compression
- Leaking of cerebrospinal fluid
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Damage to the alar ligaments
- Neck injury
Before being diagnosed with cervical vertigo, all other possible conditions must be ruled out. These include:
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular neuritis
- Psychogenic vertigo
- Central vertigo
Another thing that family doctors will want to take into consideration while trying to diagnose vertigo is the occurrence of whiplash injuries, severe arthritis, and post-traumatic vertigo. Cervical vertigo can be quite easy to diagnose if one has the above-mentioned symptoms of a stiff neck and limited range of motion. However, finding out the cause and severity can be quite difficult, along with finding the best way to care for it.
Caring for Cervical Vertigo
Many family physicians will recommend gently mobilizing the neck, exercise, and training on how to have proper posture. Some doctors may recommend muscles relaxers, such as tizanidine, cyclobenzaprine, and baclofen. Tramadol, venlafaxine, and drugs that are nonsteroidal can help if patients also have arthritis or migraines. Rarely, anti-dizziness drugs like Antivert may be recommended, although all this does is cover over a more serious issue and may lead to further damage if the area is injured. Surgery may be recommended in severe cases.
More natural ways to care for vertigo include applying heat and ice packs, using massage, doing stretching exercises, or using chiropractic realignment. Along with this suggestion, a specific form of chiropractic care may be a good option called upper cervical chiropractic care. Why does this form of care come so highly recommended?
Vertigo and Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
Upper cervical chiropractors focus on making sure that the bones of the neck are in proper working order. In particular, we focus on the C1 and C2 vertebrae. The neck is an important, complex area of the body. We understand that for our patients to have good health, the brain needs to communicate with the body at its optimum. If one has a major trauma to the upper neck it can result in paralysis or even death. However, a minor injury can have negative effects on your long-term health. This is similar to how a pebble in your shoe becomes a big problem the longer it is allowed to stay there. Neck misalignments irritate the blood vessels and nerves and can hinder your body’s ability to self-heal over time. A misalignment that causes nerve irritation is called an upper cervical subluxation. We use a technique that is different from traditional chiropractors.
With traditional chiropractic, the focus in on reducing pain by targeting specific areas that the patient is having problems with. They try to reduce muscle spasms and improve your range of motion.
Upper cervical chiropractors also hope to help their patients reduce the pain and discomfort they are experiencing. However, we have a unique approach. We focus on making sure the bones in the upper neck are in proper alignment. If the C1 or C2 vertebra is out of place, they can be placing undue pressure on the brainstem, causing it to send improper signals to the brain. The brain may think the body is in motion when it is not actually moving, leading to the symptoms of vertigo.
As a skilled and experienced vertigo chiropractor in Kelowna, we use a gentle method that does not require us to pop or crack the spine in any way. Rather, the bones are encouraged to move back into place more naturally. This helps the body to heal and leads to a longer-lasting adjustment. Many vertigo patients see improvement in or resolution of their symptoms.