You hear the term vertigo used in many contexts, so it’s important to define vertigo in order to understand it better. A better understanding of the condition also allows for better treatment options and outcomes.
Vertigo – what it is
The true definition of vertigo is the false sensation of movement of either the environment of or self. The perceived movement of vertigo can feel different to different people. It is usually described as a whirling or spinning sensation, or some might feel as if they are being pulled over to one side.
Vertigo – what it isn’t
Vertigo in and of itself is not a condition or diagnosis. Because the sensation of vertigo can be difficult to describe, the term vertigo is often used interchangeably with other words that have distinct meanings, such as:
- Feeling faint
- Feeling off-balance
- Fear of heights
- Feeling “spaced out”
Why does Vertigo Occur?
The way our sense of balance is accomplished can be quite complex. It involves input from your eyesight, touch (also called proprioception), and your body’s vestibular system (which deals with equilibrium, motion, and spatial orientation). All of these systems must be functioning well and work together to send signals to your brain about what your body needs in order to stay balanced.
There is a lot that can go wrong with any of these components. They can be influenced by disease, injury, medications, aging, and psychological factors. Vertigo is usually caused by disorders of parts of the inner ear and brain (brainstem, cerebellum, and the nerves that connect these parts of the brain to the inner ear) that are involved in keeping your balance. When a problem occurs with these components, the result is the whirling, spinning sensation of a vertigo episode.
The most common conditions that are associated with vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – a common disorder that causes short bursts of vertigo, usually with changes in head position (such as rolling over in bed).
- Meniere’s disease – vertigo associated with Meniere’s disease can be disabling and is accompanied by fluctuating hearing loss and ringing in the ear (tinnitus).
- Vestibular migraine – a combination of traditional migraine symptoms such as a severe headache, visual disturbances, and light/sound sensitivity along with vertigo.
- Labyrinthitis – the labyrinth is the bony part of the ear that contains the organs of hearing and balance. A bacterial or viral infection of the inner ear can inflame the labyrinth and cause vertigo to develop.
- Vestibular neuronitis – sudden and severe vertigo attacks can be caused by inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which is the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain so that a sense of balance can be achieved.
Vertigo, Your Spine, and Your Nervous System
Vertigo and the nervous system are closely related. Your nervous system controls and coordinates functions that are integral to your body’s ability to stay healthy and maintain a sense of balance. When it comes to vertigo, your nervous system:
- Controls eye movement and eyesight
- Is responsible for sensation (proprioception) in your arms and legs
- Controls the vestibular system, which senses equilibrium, rotation, and movement
Nerves are the pathways over which information travels between these destinations and your brain. When problems arise, signals that tell your brain about how to position your body so that it can stay balanced may become distorted and lead to a vertigo episode.
Your spine is designed to provide a layer of protection for your brain and spinal cord, ensuring that the normal communication over the central nervous system happens unhindered. The spine can become misaligned through injury or an accumulation of wear and tear. The area of the spine of particular interest to vertigo sufferers should be the upper part of the neck. This part of the nervous system, the brainstem, acts as a relay center for the integration of all of the sensory input from that parts of your body involved with balance. The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebra surround and protect the brainstem. These two vertebrae are totally unique from the others of the spine since they are responsible for bearing the weight of the head and allow for the wide ranges of movement of our head. This makes them particularly vulnerable to misaligning.
Vertigo Relief Winona MN
A Natural, Logical Solution for Vertigo
Correcting atlas and axis misalignments that can be the root cause of vertigo is the specialty of upper cervical chiropractors. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a niche within the chiropractic profession that narrows its focus down to this key area of the spine because of how big of an impact it has on overall body function. When an individual suffering from vertigo comes into our practice, we take very precise measurements and x-rays to determine exactly how things have misaligned. This allows us to craft specific adjustments for each of our patients. Upper cervical chiropractic care is tailored to the needs of each individual person.
If you are living with vertigo and are looking for a solution, then upper cervical chiropractic care might be a great fit for you. If you have any history of neck pain or injury, then it is even more critical that you’re checked for any underlying misalignments that can be contributing to the cause of your condition. Scheduling a consultation can be the first step on the path of becoming vertigo free.
To schedule a complimentary consultation call our Winona office at (507)452-4490.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.