Vertigo is a common condition that affects a surprisingly large percentage of adults. Vertigo is often times thought of as another word for dizziness. However, dizziness can mean either vertigo or lightheadedness and it’s important to know the difference.
Lightheadedness is a feeling that you are about to faint or pass out. Vertigo is a condition where you feel like you or your surroundings are spinning even though you are in a stationary position. Nausea, sweating, headaches, vomiting and fatigue may add to the discomfort. Vertigo has many different causes including: trauma like a motor vehicle accident or a fall, sinus infection or head cold, issues in the spine and nervous system, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, inner ear issues or from the use of certain medication.
There are two types of vertigo that chiropractic care can correct. These are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and cervicogenic vertigo.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo The inner ear is responsible for balance and motion sense of the head. Within the labyrinth of the inner ear are calcium crystals called otoliths (or “ear rocks”). In BPPV, the otoliths are dislodged from their normal position. BPPV symptoms come and goe based on head and neck position. When triggered, the dizziness can last a few seconds to a few minutes. Symptoms are commonly triggered by rising from sleep, tilting the head, rolling over in bed, looking up or sudden head motion. This type of vertigo is related to an inner ear problem and the most common cause is a sudden trauma (like a fall or motor vehicle accident).
Cervicogenic vertigo is dizziness that arises from the neck. For example, irritation or injury to the joints, muscles or ligaments of the neck can overstimulate nerve endings that detect position sense in the neck giving rise to vertigo. Chiropractors can work on the muscles and joints in the neck to balance the biomechanics and to promote a more rapid and complete recovery of the damaged tissues.
Vertigo can be very unpleasant for the individual but if that person experiences symptoms such as double vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, fainting or collapse, numbness, nausea and/or unsteadiness when walking, (even if temporary) allow with the vertigo they should seek emergency medical care.
Do you have questions about a sense of vertigo? Ask Dr. Jen!