Dizziness and vertigo can be terribly disturbing for people who experience it.
They are common complaints that are often mis-diagnosed and poorly treated. Many people are either left suffering and confused, or on medication that may not treat the cause.
At Canberra Spine Centre we see many patients with dizziness and vertigo. Our chiropractors are trained to diagnose, assess, and manage these conditions.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of dizziness and vertigo, their causes, and what to do about them.
Hard to Describe
Dizziness is a common, yet imprecise symptom. It can be hard for people to accurately describe what they are feeling.
Common feelings are: a sensation of motion or spinning; feeling as if you are about to pass out or faint; feeling unsteady, off balance or ‘wobbly’; or feeling disconnected with your environment.
Many Types and Causes
Causes of vertigo and dizziness are varied. It is important that a proper diagnosis is made.
Some causes of dizziness, while still quite disturbing, are benign (not life-threatening), while others may be related to more serious conditions and need urgent medical attention.
The chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre are trained in the diagnosis, assessment and management of dizziness and vertigo.
Some of the more common causes of Dizziness
While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the more common causes of dizziness and vertigo.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
This is an inner ear disorder in which changes to the position of the head, such as tipping the head backward and to the side, can lead to sudden vertigo – a feeling that the room is spinning.
BPPV is not a a serious problem. If it does not disappear on its own within 6 weeks, it can be treated with a short, simple in-office procedure.
Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis
Inflammation of the vestibular nerve or labyrinthine (inner ear, related to balance )organs, usually from a viral infection. These are usually treated with medication and vestibular rehabilitation.
Dizziness associated with hearing loss in one ear would suggest Meniere’s disease. It is caused by excess fluid pressure in the inner ear, and may improve with a low salt diet and/or diuretic use.
When circulation to the brain stem (the bit between your spinal cord and brain) is affected, this and cause vertigo and dizziness, and is a serious condition requiring urgent medical attention.
There are a range of tumours that can affect parts of the brain that influence balance. These again are serious conditions requiring urgent medical attention.
It is estimated that medications are implicated in around 23% of cases of dizziness.
Spinal dysfunction – How can this cause dizziness?
While often overlooked in the medical literature, dysfunction of the spine and nervous system can have quite an influence on balance, dizziness, and vertigo.
To understand how the spine can cause dizziness and balance upset, first we need to understand balance.
Balance – a story of three senses
Our sense of balance is really comprised of three senses put together (referred to as ‘sensory integration’ in neuroscience).
These are: visual input from the eyes; our sense of what is upright from our vestibular organs in the inner ear; and our sense of movement and joint position from our proprioceptive system.
Our proprioceptive system is a vast collection of movement-related sensors located in all our muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia throughout our body.
When the input from these three systems is correct, or matching, there will – in the absence of other disease – be no problems with balance. When the input is mis-matching, problems occur.
When spinal misalignment and improper motion (chiropractors call this ‘subluxation’) occurs, the regular flow of movement related messages – proprioception – up to the brain changes.
Instead of movement input that matches the other sensory input, there is confusion, and this often result in disturbances in balance, vision and movement control.
Why is the spine important in balance?
It all relates to the amount of proprioceptive input to the brain. Your spine, and especially your neck is absolutely loaded with sensors.
In fact, if you compared the number of sensors in your upper neck with the same amount of tissue in your thigh, you would find around 400 times more sensors in the neck.
So, when neck movement goes wrong, this has HUGE implications for balance, posture, and movement control.
Our chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre see improvements in their patients every day for this very reason.
How can the Chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre help with my Dizziness?
It’s a three stage process. Proper assessment of your condition followed by diagnosis and appropriate management.
Your chiropractic will take a detailed history to find out the likely cause of your dizziness.
There are many questions we’ll ask, related to the timing, onset, associated symptoms, other health issues and medication. We take in all this information to help guide us toward a likely diagnosis.
A thorough examination will be performed by your chiropractor, which will include any relevant neurological tests that will help us to understand what is causing your condition.
Do I need lab tests or imaging?
Generally lab testing and imaging such as MRI are not considered necessary or helpful in the diagnosis of dizziness. A proper history and physical examination will be sufficient.
After collecting all the necessary data, your chiropractor will generally be able to arrive at a concise diagnosis of your condition.
This will involve ‘ruling in’ certain condition(s) and ‘ruling out’ others. Sometimes a diagnosis may involve response to treatment to confirm.
This means making sure you get the right treatment. The chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre are trained to diagnose and manage conditions such as dizziness and vertigo.
Management may include a range of approaches, such as:
- Spinal adjustment to restore proper motion to spinal segments
- Special procedures to diagnose and correct BPPV
- Rehabilitation exercises targeting balance organs of vision, vestibular or proprioception.
- lifestyle advice related to diet, stress, rest, etc to assist with recovery
- Referral where necessary to manage or co-manage the condition
At Canberra Spine Centre, we see many people with dizziness. These people were often at a loss as to what to do about their condition, and greatly impacted by its effects.
For many of these people, our chiropractors are able to help these people recover normal function and to feel great again.
If you have dizziness and you’re not sure what to do about them, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.
If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website: www.spinecentre.com.au. Also, make sure you read the other interesting articles we post on various health issues this month.