Most people aren’t able to appreciate the debilitating impact of vertigo. Vertigo impacts every aspect of life. Those who live with vertigo-causing health conditions lose the ability or the confidence to do most anything in a normal fashion, from driving a car, sleeping comfortably, going for a walk, and maintaining an active social or family life. It is important to understand that vertigo isn’t its own health condition, but rather a symptom of other diseases and disorders.
What Causes Vertigo?
In the majority of cases, people experiencing vertigo will be diagnosed with one of a few more common causes:
- BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) – Vertigo associated with BPPV occurs in conjunction with head position. Otoliths, or calcium crystals, that are normally embedded in the inner ear can migrate into areas where they don’t belong. This essentially confuses the brain into thinking the head is moving, which can lead to the whirling, spinning sensations of a vertigo attack. BPPV can cause nausea or vomiting along with vertigo attacks, but tinnitus and hearing loss is not usually associated with this condition.
- Meniere’s disease – Meniere’s disease is associated with a dysfunction in the fluid balance in the inner ear. Usually only affecting one ear, Meniere’s can cause tinnitus, ear fullness, and fluctuating hearing loss in addition to severe vertigo attacks. Vertigo attacks usually happen suddenly and can last from 20 minutes to a full day.
- Vestibular neuritis – Also referred to as labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis is caused by inflammation of the nerve cells in the inner ear that control balance. In most cases, this is caused by a viral infection and will resolve after about a week. Depending on the part of the nerve that is impacted, vertigo can occur with or without hearing changes.
- Vestibular migraine – Approximately 40% of migraines sufferers will experience vestibular symptoms such as vertigo. Vertigo, dizziness, nausea, noise sensitivity, loss of balance, and tinnitus can occur before, during, or after a migraine attack.
How is Vertigo Usually Treated?
Typical treatment options for vertigo may vary a bit depending on what is causing it. However, there is a lot of overlap and many vertigo sufferers find themselves on a similar course. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Steroids to reduce inflammation
- Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup
- Anti-nausea medications
- Dietary changes
- A no or low-sodium diet to try and reduce fluid retention
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy
- Epley maneuver
- A technique used for those with BPPV to try to reposition misplaced otoliths
There are other, more natural options that some vertigo sufferers have tried, including ginkgo biloba supplements, ginger tea, honey, and certain essential oils.
Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Really Help My Vertigo?
It has been noted that vertigo conditions often arise after a person has experienced an injury or trauma to the head or neck. That connection can be overlooked because months, or in many cases years, have passed in between the injury and the first vertigo episode. The reason this can be such an important factor is that an injury to the head or neck can cause a misalignment of the vertebra that controls head position and protects the brainstem. The atlas (C1) plays a critical role in your body’s ability to stay balanced. When it has been out of alignment long enough to disturb normal vestibular function, vertigo can happen as a result.
A landmark study looked at 139 patients diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, one of the most common vertigo-causing conditions. Meniere’s disease sufferers will often go through traditional treatments that include medications for nausea and motion sickness, a low-sodium diet, diuretics, vestibular suppressants, antibiotic injections in the inner ear, and more. However, this study revealed that the underlying cause of Meniere’s disease may be structural in nature and related to the alignment of the upper cervical spine. All 139 patients involved in this study showed signs of a head/neck injury. The interesting, and perhaps most pertinent finding is that an average of 15 years had passed between the trauma and the onset of vertigo and its associated symptoms.
The results of the study were extremely positive:
- Patients rated the severity of their vertigo on a scale of 0-10 (with 0 being symptom-free and 10 being the worst possible symptoms). Before upper cervical chiropractic care, the average vertigo rating was 8.5. After only 6 weeks, it was lowered to 3.0. At the one-year follow-up mark, it was down to 2.3, and even better at the two-year follow-up at 1.4.
- Many patients reported feeling an improvement after their very first upper cervical adjustment.
- 136 of the 139 patients were able to return to a normal quality of life because of upper cervical chiropractic care, giving them back their ability to go to work, drive a car, and restore positive social relationships.
- Even those that were not totally symptom-free experienced improvement. They reported far fewer vertigo attacks that lasted for a shorter duration and weren’t as intense. The recovery time following an episode was also reduced.
If you are living with the devastating effects of vertigo and are ready to get to the bottom of what’s really going on, then a visit to N8 Upper Cervical, your Alabang vertigo chiropractor, should be your next step. You will find our approach to care very thorough, individualized, and extremely gentle. By realigning the atlas normal vestibular function can return given the time for your body to naturally heal. Once corrected, many patients report (as in the study discussed above) seeing their symptoms reduce greatly. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help.
Burcon MT, Upper Cervical Specific Protocol and Results for 139 Patients with Medically Diagnosed Meniere’s Disease. J Vert Sublux Res 2010; Nov 14:1-10.