By Dr. Michelle Lim, D.C.
Medically speaking, vertigo is defined as a specific type of dizziness associated with brief, severe episodes that include a sense of moving and spinning, even though there is no actual movement. It’s a false sense that you or your environment is spinning and may include light-headedness, imbalance and nausea.
One of the most common causes of vertigo is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), which is also known as Benign Vertigo or Positional Vertigo. Vertigo is a common complaint, especially after head and neck trauma, ear infection, prolonged bed rest, ear surgery or vertebrobasiliar ischemia. In geriatrics, the most common cause is degeneration of the vestibular system of the inner ear.
You see, the inner ear has small calcium particles located on the balance nerve endings. As stated on the California Ear Institute website:
When we move in space, the nerve endings bend within the fluid of the ear causing the nerves to fire and to send a signal to the brain from the balance organ of the inner ear. In some cases, the particles become dislodged and float to abnormal positions in the inner ear. In these instances, certain positions cause brief but intense periods of a perception of motion called vertigo. Elderly patients may be at risk of falling due to the balance disturbance. Precipitating causes can be a blow to the head or a viral illness although the majority of cases happen apparently without cause.
This inner ear condition begins after:
Head injury/ neck trauma
cold or virus/upper respiratory infection
prolonged bed rest
aging process (degeneration of the vestibular system)
use of ototoxic medications, like gentamicin
Vertigo is very disabling. As one of my patients explained, “I can’t sleep and I can't drive. I start to get dizzy whenever I turn my head to make turns. So I try to avoid four way stops and driving all together. It’s very dangerous, I feel unsafe, so I have to have others drive me around.”
Lucky for her, she sought Chiropractic care. Along with a combination of spinal manipulation plus performing some repositioning maneuvers like the Epley Maneuver, my patient found relief. The Epley Maneuver uses gravity to move the calcium carbonate crystals away into an area of the inner ear where they will cause no further symptoms. This treatment is very effective and patients are usually symptom free within 3-4 treatments.
So if you're experiencing any dizziness or a spinning sensation accompanied with light-headedness, nausea or imbalance, visit Dr. Lim to determine if your condition is cervicogenic or due to misplaced calcium particles in your ear. Chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing BPPV after taking a full case history and performing a physical and neurological examination.
Going to a Chiropractor may not be the first thing that comes to mind when experiencing such symptoms, but the manuevers and treatment used is the same as medical clinicians who specialize in these conditions.