Vertigo is a medical condition in which you feel as if you or the objects around you are moving when they are actually standing still. It has been defined as a spinning or swaying sensation. It is often accompanied by:
- Problems walking
- Intensifying sensation when moving the head
In order to understand vertigo, it is important to have knowledge about how the inner ear works, as these two are often related. The vestibular system plays a major role in all of this. What is the vestibular system? It is the sensory system that contributes to the sense of equilibrium and spatial orientation so as to coordinate movement with balance. It makes up the labyrinth of the inner ear along with the cochlea (part of the auditory system). Being that our movements are made up of rotation, the vestibular system has two components:
- The semicircular canals which sense rotational movements
- The otoliths which indicate direct accelerations
The vestibular system is responsible for sending signals to neural structures that control eye movements and to the muscles that keep us standing upright. This helps us to see clearly and stand up without falling. The brain uses this information and also that from proprioception throughout the body to understand the body’s position and actions from minute to minute.
The Semicircular Canals
The semicircular canals detect movement and are the main tools used in this detection. Since the world is in 3D, we have 3 semicircular canals in each labyrinth. They are at right angles to each other and are called the horizontal, the anterior semicircular canal, and the posterior semicircular canal.
These canals are set up so there is a parallel counterpart to each one on the right side. These three canals work in a push and pull fashion. This means that when one is stimulated, its corresponding partner is inhibited, and so forth. This makes it possible for you to sense all directions of rotation. The right horizontal canal gets stimulated during the head rotations to the right, while the left horizontal canal gets stimulated by head rotations to the left.
So, now that we have an idea how the vestibular system works, let’s take a look at how some conditions can cause this system to malfunction and lead to the symptoms of vertigo.
Conditions that Cause Vertigo
- Meniere’s disease: A disorder of the inner ear that causes you to feel as if you are spinning (vertigo). It also is accompanied by progressive hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a feeling of congestion or pressure in the ear. In the majority of cases, only one ear is affected. It usually begins between the ages of 20 and 50, but can happen at any age.
- Labyrinthitis: A swelling of the inner ear that leads to hearing loss and vertigo. It is usually caused by a virus and occasionally by bacteria. Having a common cold can often trigger the condition. An ear infection can also be to blame, along with allergies or certain drugs. If you have labyrinthitis, this means parts of your inner ear are swollen and irritated and this may cause you to lose your balance and experience hearing loss. You may have, in addition to vertigo and hearing loss, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, tinnitus, and a hard time focusing your eyes because they are moving on their own.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: This is one of the most common reasons for vertigo. It causes brief episodes of dizziness that is mild to intense. It usually occurs when you move your head in a certain position — moving it up and down, turning over in bed, lying down, or sitting up. It is not a serious condition unless it happens when you are in a position to get hurt when it occurs, like driving a car or climbing a ladder. With this condition, you may experience dizziness, loss of balance, unsteadiness, nystagmus (abnormal eye movements), nausea, and vomiting.
- Vestibular neuritis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. This nerve is responsible for relaying signals about balance from the inner ear to the brain. When it becomes inflamed, vertigo results. It usually only affects one ear at a time.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book How to Naturally Relieve Vertigo without Drugs by clicking the image below.
The Upper Cervical Connection to Vertigo
It has been discovered that a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine can be the underlying cause of vertigo in some cases. A study was done of 60 patients who had all been diagnosed with some form of vertigo. Out of these, 56 recalled having some form of head or neck trauma before the onset of their vertigo. Accidents involved such things as horseback riding, skiing, bicycling, an automobile, or trips and falls on icy pavement or down the stairs. Interestingly, upon further examination by an upper cervical chiropractor, all 60 were found to have a misalignment in their upper cervical spine. They were all given an adjustment tailored to their individual needs. All 60 responded positively within 1 to 6 months of care. Out of them, 48 had total resolution of their vertigo symptoms while the remaining 12 reported a great improvement.
Here at Balanced Hills Chiropractic in Rochester Hills, Michigan, we use a similar technique to the one used in the above study. It does not require us to pop or crack the spine. Rather, it is a gentle method to encourage the bones to naturally realign themselves. It results in a longer-lasting adjustment because the bones were not forced into place. Many patients have found this to be extremely helpful with their vertigo symptoms, leading to a noticeable improvement or a complete resolution.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation call 248-652-7225 or just 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