Vertigo has slowly become one of the most common conditions we are seeing in the office today. Most of the time, people come to see us after they have had work ups done by their primary, ENT, neurologist, and physical therapist.
Vertigo and balance disorders can have a very debilitating impact on your life. It makes you reluctant to perform some very basic tasks of human existence. Walking in open spaces without a wall suddenly becomes intimidating, and finding the right sleeping position is almost like a game of roulette. One wrong move and the world starts spinning.
Then once it hits, you start becoming nauseated eventually leaving you tired and scared of your next movement. Living with chronic vertigo can take away a lot of the joy of living.
I’ve consulted with a lot of patients with vertigo in my practice. When I ask them about their diagnosis, most people simply say that vertigo is their diagnosis. The problem is that when someone says that they were diagnosed with vertigo, it’s not really a diagnosis in its true form. Vertigo is basically just a Latin word for dizziness.
Being dizzy and coming back with a diagnosis of vertigo would be like going into a doctor’s office with low back pain, and the doctor says that your diagnosis is lumbago. Lumbago is just the Latin word for low back pain. It’s not a diagnosis, its just repeating the symptom back to you in Latin. You don’t need the doctor to re-hash your symptom back to you, you want them to find out WHY you have that problem.
Vertigo is a symptom of a LOT of different conditions. Some of which include:
- Meniere’s Disease
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cervicogenic vertigo
- Head trauma
Once we establish a cause, then we can establish a game plan to get rid of the cause.
Atlas Displacement and Vertigo
When you have vertigo, the overwhelming majority of doctors and therapists will evaluated your eyes and your inner ear. While the inner ear and the eyes are important, many cases of vertigo may be coming form a part of your neck called the Atlas.
The Atlas is the top bone in the neck and is connected to important muscles have a huge role in dizziness. These muscles are called the suboccipital muscles and they play a role in something called proprioception.
Proprioception is considered your body’s 6th sense. It is a system that allows your brain to know where different body parts are in space. Close your eyes, lift your arm over your head, and wiggle your fingers. You know exactly where your hand and fingers are in space because of the movement of those joints. That is what proprioception is.
The top of the neck is one of the largest contributors to proprioception. That’s why so many people with whiplash or concussions can become dizzy. The muscles in the neck become dysfunctional and start giving your brain bad information about its environment. This can even happen even in the absence of neck pain!
When we evaluate patients with vertigo, we make sure to do a thorough examination of the neck to determine if that’s the cause. Many patients who get their neck corrected will often feel an improvement in their vertigo symptoms in a manner of weeks.
If you’ve been to several doctors for your vertigo with no luck, it may just be a problem in your neck that needs to be corrected.
It Starts and Ends in the Brain
You sense of balance all starts and ends in the brain, but here’s the important thing to remember. The information your brain puts out is only as good as the information that goes in. Ensuring proper function of the neck may be the missing link in the care of people with vertigo.
Dr. Jonathan Chung is a Doctor of Chiropractic who focuses on Structural Correction and is primarily concerned with Structural Shifts of the spine. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Dr. Chung then went on and received his doctorate from Life University’s College of Chiropractic. Dr. Chung is certified in pediatrics from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, and is a Structural Chiropractic Researcher who has been published in scientific peer-reviewed journals. Read more from Dr. Chung at chiropractorwellington.com/blog
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