We all get a little dizzy from time to time, whether it’s because we stood up too quickly, just stepped off of a merry-go-round, or got a little car sick. Thankfully, the wooziness usually goes away after a few minutes. But if it seems as if the world around you is constantly spinning, it is very likely that an underlying medical condition is to blame—and vertigo is just the debilitating manifestation.
If you want to regain your balance—and your life—and say goodbye to inopportune dizziness and nausea, read on to discover how chiropractic care can treat certain types of vertigo.
What Is Vertigo?
According to Doorland’s Medical Dictionary, vertigo is a type of dizziness associated with the illusion of movement (often a spinning sensation). It’s important to note that dizziness alone doesn’t constitute vertigo. It must be accompanied by the feeling—the misconception—that everything around you is spinning or that you, yourself, are moving.
While nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis can trigger vertigo, this dizzy-spinning sensation is most commonly the result of a disorder in your vestibular system. This sensory system, which is a link between your inner ear and your brain, controls your body’s balance and spatial orientation, sending messages from your inner ear to your brain about motion, head position, and the surrounding environment. When your vestibular system is damaged, the connection and communication between your inner ear and your brain is disrupted. This can cause not only dizziness and a spinning sensation, but also other symptoms, including:
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Hearing loss
- Uncoordinated movements
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Double vision
- Jerky eye movements
Severity and duration of these symptoms vary from mild to severe and lasting only a few minutes to being afflicted for a few days.
Types of Vertigo and Causes
Vertigo can be classified as either peripheral or central, depending on which part of your vestibular system is impaired and causing your symptoms. Here is a quick comparison of the two types.
|Most common type of vertigo
|Not as common
|Caused by disorders affecting the structures in your inner ear
|Caused by disorders or injuries affecting the structures of your central nervous system (e.g. brain stem, cerebellum)
|Onset is sudden, and symptoms are intermittent and more severe
|Onset is gradual, and symptoms are constant and milder
|Affected by changes in head position and movement
|Not usually affected by changes in head position or movement
|Nausea and vomiting are frequent and severe
|Nausea and vomiting are less predictable
The most common inner ear problems that cause peripheral vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This type of vertigo is triggered by changing position or turning your head a certain way. This movement causes tiny calcium crystals in one part of your ear to move into an area where they shouldn’t be, signaling to your brain that you are moving when you really aren’t. As a result, you can have sudden and intense—but brief—feelings of spinning or swaying, dizziness, and lightheadedness. BPPV is the most common type of peripheral vertigo and, according to Mayo Clinic, affects 30 percent of people over age 65.
- Labyrinthitis (inner ear infection): Inner ear inflammation can affect your balance and hearing and also cause ear pain, pressure, and nausea.
- Vestibular neuritis: This disorder, brought on by a viral infection such as measles or chickenpox, affects the nerve that sends sound and balance information from your inner ear to your brain, causing dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and trouble walking.
- Meniere’s disease: People with this disease not only have vertigo but also hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in their ears, and a feeling that their ear is blocked or filled with fluid—which it very well may be.
The most common causes of central vertigo include:
- Head or neck trauma: A head or neck injury can disrupt the alignment of your spine or cause whiplash, leaving you feeling dizzy and affecting your sense of balance and ability to concentrate. This is very often caused by a disruption or blockage in blood flow to the inner ear or brain stem.
- Cervical spondylosis and degeneration: Over time, your vertebrae and neck disks wear and tear, putting pressure on your spinal cord or nerves and blocking the blood flow to your brain and inner ear.
- Migraine headaches: Vertigo is a common complaint for people with migraines—but it doesn’t need to occur concurrently with the headache. You may experience constant vertigo, positional vertigo, or dizziness, and the symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to twenty-four hours.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): While vertigo may not be intense or debilitating for people with MS, their vertigo can last for hours, days, or even weeks.
You can also experience vertigo has a result of:
- Motion sickness
- Changes in air pressure
- Inhalation or ingestion of toxic substances
- Ingestion of drugs or alcohol
- Circulatory problems
- Brain tumors
Getting to the root cause of your vertigo is essential to receiving proper treatment and managing your symptoms. The good news: When vertigo is caused by inner ear issues or joints in the neck, chiropractic is very effective for treating vertigo.
Chiropractic Treatment for Vertigo
Because of the neurological connection between vertigo and its causes—between the spine and the rest of the body—chiropractors know the techniques that will help you overcome your dizziness.
During your first appointment, your chiropractor will ask you questions about your symptoms, health history, and lifestyle. He may even take x-rays to rule out certain disorders. Once your chiropractor has a full understanding of your condition, he will develop a personal care plan to help you manage your vertigo and reclaim your life.
Depending on the cause of your vertigo and the duration and severity of your symptoms, your treatment plan may include:
- Spinal manipulation: Your nervous system controls all the information that is transmitted from your body to your brain. Your spine, which runs from your tailbone all the way to your neck, is part of your nervous system. When the joints in your neck aren’t moving properly, misinformation about your body position and movement is sent to your brain. By adjusting the joints in your upper neck and spine, your chiropractor can improve the communication between your body and your brain, helping your nervous system function at its best. This safe, hands-on technique is especially effective for cervical vertigo (dizziness that is caused by poor neck posture, neck disorders, trauma to the head or neck, and whiplash).
- In-office and at-home exercises: When your vertigo is triggered by BPPV, debris (crystals) settles on sensitive areas in your inner ear. Your chiropractor can teach you a few exercises and that can effectively reposition the debris to a more innocuous position, giving you relief from your vertigo.
- Canalith repositioning procedure: Performed under your chiropractor’s supervision, this procedure involves holding your head in four positions for about 30 to 45 seconds each, or for as long as symptoms remain when holding the positions.
- Epley maneuver: To perform this quick and simple technique at home, you turn your head to varying degrees while sitting on the edge of your bed, and lying on your back and side. (Your chiropractor will show you how to do this maneuver before suggesting you do it on your own.)
- Brandt-Daroff technique: Similar to the Epley maneuver, you perform this technique by lying for about 30 seconds on each side with your head tilted so your nose is pointed up. (Your chiropractor will show you how to do this maneuver before suggesting you do it on your own.)
Your chiropractor may also suggest dietary and lifestyle changes and meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques to help you control your symptoms.
No one should have to live their life feeling woozy and sick all the time. If you experience dizziness accompanied by a spinning sensation and any of the symptoms above, visit your chiropractor to take the first step in overcoming your vertigo and living your life to the fullest.
At All Star Chiropractic, our goal is to help our patients recover from back pain, neck pain, lack of mobility, joint issues, range of motion issues, and more—without the use of prescription drugs. We believe in taking a holistic “whole-body” approach to your health. We don’t want to just temporarily fix your pain—we want to determine and treat the root cause so you live an active and pain-free life.
Call one of our locations today to schedule an appointment, or to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you.