Dizziness is a very common problem that people suffer from and can be caused by several different conditions. A common diagnosis patients with dizziness receive is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is thought to be caused by debris which has collected within a part of the inner ear/vestibular region. This debris consists of small crystals of calcium carbonate from a part of the ear called the "utricle"(see #7 in diagram). The loose debris may have been caused by a head injury, infection, age related degeneration or other disorder. Over time people with BBPV commonly suffer re-occurrences of dizzy spells after having periods when they feel fine. The debris may dissolve naturally or be reabsorbed by the body.
About 20% of all dizziness is due to BPPV. Older people suffer from BBPV caused dizziness more often than young people. About half of older people with dizziness have BPPV. These symptoms include dizziness or vertigo, lightheadedness, imbalance, and nausea. Symptoms are almost always made worse by a change of head position in relation to gravity. Getting out of bed or rolling over in bed are common "problem" motions. Tipping the head back is also a common aggravating movement with BBPV.
To diagnose BBPV a consultation describing your experience of the problem is very important, but a series of maneuvers can help determine if your dizziness is from BBPV or other factors. There are also some very sophisticated instruments used to diagnose the condition with the use of special glasses or goggles for instance. Usually, such instruments are not required to manage these cases properly.
Rarely is the cause of dizziness a stroke or brain tumor, so it is best not to get too upset if you experience these symptoms, as they will usually pass in time, generally before too long. If not, then seeking medical attention is very important, as early detection may prevent a catastrophe.
What about the other causes of dizziness?
Since only about 20% of dizziness episodes are from BBPV, then why is it that most patients that see an M.D. for dizziness seem to be diagnosed with BBPV?
Dizziness always develops when the real incoming signals from the vestibular (inner ear), visual and somatosensory (nerves from the joints and muscles) information contradict each other and the expected input signals. In other words, if the brain doesn’t understand the collected information from all these regions, you will get dizzy!
Disorders of the vestibular apparatus/inner ear are thought by traditional medical professionals to be the most frequent cause of dizziness; in contrast, cervicogenic (neck/spine) causes are evidently believed by most M.Ds to play a minor role. However, regardless of who is treating you, dizziness syndromes usually have a favorable prognosis and can be successfully managed. It’s important to be aware that if you are seeing an M.D., you will likely not be fully assessed for possible spinal causes, unless you also seek a chiropractic evaluation, by a chiropractic experienced and knowledgeable about this condition.
The fact is that your M.D. really isn’t trained or educated to consider one of the major cause of dizziness: your spine. They generally don’t study biomechanics of the joints much at all.
Studies have shown that dizziness is a common experience after neck trauma such as whiplash or other similar neck injuries. This is called Cervico-genic Vertigo/Dizziness. Degeneration of the upper cervical spine can also cause a disruption in nerve system control of head to body balance, control of eye movement and integration of input from the brain and the inner ear balance system.
You may find that the spine is never even mentioned by an M.D. as a possible cause of these symptoms when in my experience, it is very common. Just to look at how common mechanical types of neck problems are gives you an indication that this may be a very commonly overlooked cause in dizziness cases. Almost everyone ends up with a neck problem at some time in their life, and the incidence of degeneration and arthritis of the cervical spine is so common among older people that it is one of the most common causes of impairment in seniors. These problems occur from bad posture, impacts and injuries.
Your neck muscles, joints and nerves must be fit enough to maintain your posture and movements. Every activity from reading to watching a bird in flight to walking and balancing your body against gravity depend on a finely tuned group of millions of signals telling your brain even a single degree or millimeter of movement of each of your mechanical body parts. These signals come from the ligaments, muscles and joints via the nerves connected to those parts. If one was to inject even one of your upper neck joints with a numbing agent like lidocaine, you would get so dizzy that if you were sitting in a chair you would have difficulty not falling out of it! You wouldn’t be able to even read without help supporting your head!
Fortunately, most people with this Cervico-genic Vertigo/Dizziness can find relief with specific chiropractic adjustments, specific types of balance exercises, and eye/head to body repositioning exercises. With some chiropractic care, exercise and education, one can often find management of Cervico-genic Vertigo to be very effective in restoring your health and function.