Vertigo

Vertigo (dizziness) accounts for over eight million primary care visits in the US each year. Vertigo describes the feeling of your head or the room spinning. It can be associated with nausea and vomiting. It may arise from one or more structures in the body. The first type of vertigo is called “Central” and it originates in the brain stem, cerebellum, or cerebrum. The second type of vertigo is called “Peripheral” and it originates in the vestibular (inner ear), visual, or spinal proprioceptive systems in the cervical spine. Peripheral vertigo is also called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). The most common cause of vertigo is from a peripheral source: either the cervical spine or the inner ear.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed. Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it's rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. The signs and symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) may include:

  • Dizziness

  • A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)

  • A loss of balance or unsteadiness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting


Proprioceptive input (the nerves that tell your brain where your joints are) from the cervical spine plays a critical role in the maintenance of balance. The joints of the upper cervical spine are highly innervated. When these vertebrae are subluxated (misalignment of the vertebrae), it causes abnormal stimulation of the nerves from these joints to the brain. This will conflict with input to the brain from the eyes and from the vestibular system. This sensory mismatch between visual, vestibular, and cervical mechanoreceptive input “confuses” the brain into a temporary state of dizziness. Peripheral Vertigo responds well to 1 of 2 simple solutions that we provide here in the office.

Dr. Gerard has seen many patients over the years with a range of mild to severe attacks of vertigo, and the majority of them have resolved with 1 of the 2 following solutions. Most respond to a series of specific upper cervical adjustments to correct the subluxation which is sending “bad data” to the brain and confusing the balance system. The upper two vertebrae are called the Atlas (C1) and the Axis (C2) and they surround the brainstem. This is the site center for balance and equilibrium. Research has shown most vertigo comes from the upper neck.

The 2nd group of people with BPPV do not have a subluxation have a problem in the semicircular canals found in the inner ear. The semicircular canals detect motion and send this information to your brain. The utricle, also a part of the inner ear, contains calcium crystals (canaliths) that help detect movement. Sometimes, these crystals detach from the utricle and end up inside the semicircular canals. When these crystals move into the canals, they may send incorrect signals to your brain about your position. This can cause vertigo. The solution is a series of changes of head position called the “Epley Maneuver” to relocate these crystals to their normal position. Dr. Gerard can perform this maneuver here in the office and teach you how to continue it at home, or you can easily locate a description and video online to perform this procedure at home.

How Can We Help?

If you or someone you know has vertigo, the first step is to come in for an assessment to determine which type of vertigo you have and the appropriate correction. At Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C., our approach is very specific and effective. We will begin with a detailed consultation, examination, and x-rays (except in inappropriate situations), so that we know exactly what your problem is. We would also rule out any conditions which would not be appropriate for care in our office and direct you to the appropriate type of provider if necessary. We want to know what your goals are and what you would like to do that you are currently missing out on. With the information we find upon your visit, combined with your goals, we will create a customized care plan to correct the problem. At Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C., our goal is to help you return to full function and vitality as quickly as possible.

​​​​​​​Are you ready to see if chiropractic can help you? Contact Us for more information or Request An Appointment today! You are worth it!

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