Vertigo: A New Understanding
Every year hundreds of thousands of people report frequent sensations of the room spinning around them. For most, it is short-lived and associated with things like:
- Alcohol or drug consumption
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
From a dietary standpoint, the solution is simple… Consume more water daily and reduce intake of foods high in sugar, trans fat, gluten, and of course alcohol. This can naturally reduce the amount of inflammation in the body and help improve blood circulation throughout.
For vertigo associated with migraines or BPPV, the answers may be more complex.
BPPV is caused by a dislodging of crystals inside the semicircular canals of the inner ear. When these crystals dislodge, they become free-floating in the ambulatory fluid of the ear and when combined with motion, they may affect neurological components that cue the brain to believe that the room is spinning. The good news is that the crystals will usually dissolve in 1-2 weeks and there is a simple treatment commonly performed by physical therapists called “the Epley Maneuver” that can help correct the position of those dislodged crystals.
Migraines can also cause vertigo because of intense nausea often accompanying the headache.
What If None Of These Are Present?
When understanding how vertigo and dizziness may occur in a situation that does not involve the common culprits – we must understand some important aspects of the function of the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is commonly thought to only be controlled by the anatomy of the inner ear, however, when we look at the complexity of the central nervous system, it shows that vestibular function is a culmination of communication between three separate systems! For the proper function to occur, these three systems must work in symphony with your brain.
The three systems include The ocular system (vision), the proprioceptive system (specialized tissues in joints, skin, and muscle,) and what is commonly referred to as the vestibular system (the inner ear). If even one part of this symphony is out of tune, the brain will not receive the proper information to create a sensation of balance and coordination naturally.
If you have been experiencing frequent bouts of vertigo in Colorado Springs, your medical doctor will usually make a referral to a specialist that tends to look at the dysfunction in the inner ear as the cause, often putting most patients in the “BPPV diagnostic cookie box”. For most people suffering from long-term and chronic vertigo a traditional medical examination only looks at two of the three systems – the inner ear and the visual system. For many, these tests, unfortunately,y come back negative leaving doctors & patients frustrated and without appropriate solutions.
Our new understanding of long-term vertigo or bouts of dizziness relates to the third and often overlooked portion of the vestibular system. This system can broadly be termed the proprioceptive system – which is made up of special receptors in the muscles, joints, and skin that create a sense of body awareness, coordination, and position. The most abundantly rich (and misdiagnosed) part of the proprioceptive system relating to various forms of dizziness involves a specialized bundle of nerves in your upper neck called the vestibular nuclei. These nuclei serve as one of the main communication points between the proprioceptive system, visual system, inner ear, and your brain. If these nuclei are not in proper communication with the brain, consistent misfiring of information will occur causing a sensory mismatch between the brain and body. When the brain does not perceive the body optimally, it may feel threatened and go into a protective state – this protective state created in the brain may cause:
- Suboccipital contracture – a series of receptor-dense muscles at the base of your skull become hypertonic (tight/imbalanced)
- Misalignment of the top bone in the spine (C1/Atlas) relative to the hole in the base of the skull
- Dysfunctional tissues (nerves, arteries, and veins) surrounding these muscles due to misalignment
- Blockage of blood and cerebrospinal fluid circulation through those veins and arteries responsibly for clearing waste from the brain and supplying nutrients and oxygen.
These vestibular nuclei are often the culprit for many of these cases of vertigo that do not reveal positive findings in traditional examinations that evaluate the visual and inner ear systems. Addressing an injury or long-term problem in the upper neck can be the effective solution missing when it comes to vertigo.
Foundational Chiropractic Can Help Vertigo
Balance Chiropractic in Colorado Springs often receives referrals from general practitioners and physical therapists for patients who have tried the traditional approach to vertigo to no avail.
Our unique form of Foundational Chiropractic is aimed at restoring the brain-body connection by correcting and balancing the structures of the upper neck. When structures in the upper neck shift, it can cause a dysfunction of fluid dynamics and neurological impulses to and from the brain causing secondary conditions like vertigo. Our approach includes a series of objective testing to qualify each patient as an appropriate candidate for Foundational Correction and to track measurable progress throughout your phase of correction.
Experience the foundational difference by scheduling a complimentary consultation today.