Vertigo is a medical condition related to the balance system in the body. It causes you to feel as if you or the objects around you are moving, when in reality they are completely still. Sometimes it is described as a spinning or swaying sensation. A few associated symptoms are listed below:
- Problems walking
- Intensifying sensation when moving the head
Understanding vertigo requires some knowledge of how the inner ear functions, since the two are usually connected. The vestibular system has a vital role in all of this. The vestibular system is the sensory system that provides us with a sense of equilibrium and spatial orientation so that we are able to effectively coordinate movement with balance. It is composed of the labyrinth of the inner ear as well as the cochlea (part of the auditory system). Since our movements also consist of rotation, the vestibular system has two components:
- The semicircular canals which sense rotational movements
- The otoliths which indicate direct accelerations
The vestibular system’s job is to send messages to neural structures that control eye movements and to the muscles that help us stand upright. This allows us to have clear vision and be stable while standing up. This information and messages from proprioception throughout the body are used by the brain to understand the body’s position and its movements from second to second.
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The Semicircular Canals
The semicircular canals detect movement and are the most prevalently used in this detection. Since the world is in 3D, we need 3 semicircular canals in each labyrinth. They face each other at right angles and are called the horizontal, the anterior semicircular canal, and the posterior semicircular canal.
Each canal is set up so it has a parallel counterpart on its right side. They work together in a push and pull manner, so that when one is stimulated, its corresponding partner is inhibited, and so on. This is why you are able to sense all directions of rotation. The right horizontal canal gets stimulated by head rotations to the right, while the left horizontal canal gets stimulated by head rotations to the left.
After reading the summary above of how the vestibular system works, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of how some conditions can cause this system to malfunction and cause the development of vertigo symptoms.
Conditions Associated with Vertigo Onset
- Meniere’s disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that gives you the feeling that you are spinning (vertigo). Other characteristics include progressive hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. In most cases, the person is only affected in one ear. It often starts to develop between the ages of 20 and 50 but can begin at any age.
- Labyrinthitis: This is a swelling of the inner ear that results in hearing loss and vertigo. It is often the result of a virus, or occasionally bacteria. A few triggers of this condition are the common cold, an ear infection, allergies, or certain drugs. If you are experiencing labyrinthitis, then parts of your inner ear have swelled and are irritated, which could cause you to lose your balance and have some hearing loss. Other symptoms you may have along with vertigo and hearing loss are nausea and vomiting, dizziness, tinnitus, and difficulty focusing your eyes because they are moving involuntarily.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: This is one of the most common reasons for vertigo. It causes short periods of dizziness that range from mild to intense and most often happens when moving your head in a certain position, such as up and down, rolling over in bed, lying down, or sitting up. While the condition in itself is not dangerous, if it were to happen while driving a car or climbing a ladder, the outcome could be serious. Other characteristics of this condition are dizziness, loss of balance, unsteadiness, nystagmus (abnormal eye movements), nausea, and vomiting.
- Vestibular neuritis: This is inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. Because this nerve is in charge of sending signals about balance from the inner ear to the brain, when it becomes inflamed, vertigo happens. In most cases, it affects only one ear at a time.
The Upper Cervical Spine and Vertigo
Research has confirmed that a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine can be the hidden cause of vertigo in some cases. A study was done of 60 patients, all diagnosed with a form of vertigo. Fifty-six of the patients could remember some history of head or neck trauma prior to their vertigo episodes. The kinds of accidents ranged from horseback riding, skiing, bicycling, an automobile accident, or trips and falls on icy pavement or down the stairs. After an examination by an upper cervical chiropractor, it was discovered that all 60 had a misalignment in their upper cervical spine. Each patient received an adjustment tailored to their individual needs, and within 1 to 6 months of treatment, every participant responded positively. Out of the 60 patients, 48 had a complete elimination of their vertigo symptoms and the remaining 12 experienced great improvements in their condition.
Here at Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park, Texas, we practice a similar method as the one applied in the above study. We never need to pop or crack the spine, but instead we apply a gentle technique that encourages the bones to naturally realign themselves. This helps to provide a longer-lasting adjustment since the bones were not forced to move into place. Many of our patients experience dramatic improvements with their vertigo symptoms, and in some cases, a complete resolution of all their symptoms.
To schedule a complimentary consultation call our Cedar Park, TX office at 512-331-7422 You can also click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.