Chiropractic care has proven extremely efficient in treating back, neck, and knee pain, or in reducing inner ear problems, including hearing concerns or ear infections. But, should you see a chiropractor for Vertigo? Before answering that question, let's dive a little deeper into understanding dizziness and Vertigo.
What is dizziness?
Most of us feel dizzy from time to time. It can be anywhere from an uncomfortable sensation to a debilitating ailment. At one end of the spectrum, this is slight light-headedness that only lasts for a few seconds. However, in extreme cases, the feeling of dizziness can be so strong that you pretty much can’t control your movements at all.
Dizziness can have numerous causes like low blood pressure or low blood sugar. Alcohol intoxication, migraines, and certain types of poisoning are just a few more examples. And while dizziness is experienced by approximately 20-40% of the population, 7-10% of the cases are diagnosed as Vertigo.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a very intense form of dizziness that affects many people at some point in life. The first time someone experiences Vertigo it can be a terrifying experience as it manifests suddenly, causing a complete loss of balance.
In most cases, the person affected won’t be able to stand up, let alone walk, and may even have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or cold shivers. In fact, intense dizziness and Vertigo account for about 2-3% of emergency department visits in the US.
A sudden attack of Vertigo, or any type of extreme dizziness, must be taken seriously. Some other very serious underlying conditions may be the culprit like, stroke, brain tumors, brain injury, MS, and similar potential ailments that need to be looked into before discarding them. These serious causes are not as common, but if a person has them, early diagnosis is crucial. That’s why it’s always a good idea to visit an emergency room the first time you experience a sudden onset of extreme dizziness.
The good news is that most bouts of dizziness diagnosed as Vertigo belong to the Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) type. Other than affecting the patient’s life quality, this type of ailment is harmless.
Can a chiropractor treat BPPV?
YES! BPPV occurs when the tiny calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear loosen and slip into one of the semicircular canals. When this happens, false signals are sent to the brain that either the person or the space around them is moving, when they are, in fact, not. The false spinning sensation usually lasts only a few minutes, but changes in the head position can trigger it multiple times a day.
For example, it can happen when you are bending over to pick something from the floor. Even just turning in bed from one side to another may induce an episode. The whirling sometimes becomes intense enough to cause nausea and vomiting.
Once diagnosed, usually by doing a simple maneuver carried out by an experienced chiropractor, the treatment of BPPV is very straightforward. At the hospital, patients may be given anti-nausea medications, some hormone suppressants, corticosteroids, and even anticonvulsants. The issue is all these medications come with unwanted side effects.
Chiropractic care is well established in treating inner ear disorders ranging from tinnitus, hearing problems, motion sickness, and, yes...Vertigo. When it comes to chiropractic adjustments for Vertigo, a chiropractor will be able to help you ease BPPV by carrying out well-established treatments. In most cases, relief is either immediate or happens shortly after your visit.
What if my Vertigo is not BPPV, or it’s caused by other inner ear problems?
Some other types of Vertigo such as Meniere’s Disease and Labyrinthitis are caused not by displaced crystals but by fluid accumulation in the inner ear. This part of the human anatomy is innervated by the cervical (upper neck) vertebrae. Because of our modern lifestyle and resulting posture problems, misalignment (subluxation) of the upper cervical vertebra is very common.
When misaligned, your cervical vertebrae can’t function properly. This affects all the organs and muscles it innervates. Proper fluid drainage within the inner ear is helped greatly by healthy cervical vertebrae. After pinpointing the problematic misalignments, a chiropractor will safely adjust your neck to promote proper fluid drainage in the inner ear. This will help with both Vertigo and other inner ear complaints.
Keeping the cervical spine healthy and well-aligned will assist in the healing of many other existing problems as well as prevent future ones. Both BPPV and other types of Vertigo are conditions with the tendency to recur, mostly in elderly people. As we age our bodily functions (such as loose crystals and fluid build-up) in the inner ear don’t work as well as before. This is why seeing a chiropractor for regular adjustments is highly beneficial.
If you have problems with dizziness or Vertigo and would like to give chiropractic care a try, feel free to reach out to our office at 828-382-8005.