By Dr. Scott Fuller, DC, CCST, DACNB March 2009
There are several causes of dizziness1. Depending on the cause of your dizziness, you may respond to conservative treatments including chiropractic care and specific exercises. Dizziness is often divided into two categories, lightheadedness and vertigo. Lightheadedness may be caused by blood pressure issues, dehydration, and colds and other illnesses. When I get a call from someone who is dizzy and seeking treatment, it is usually for dizziness known as Vertigo. There are many causes of vertigo including chronic neck problems, poor neck alignment and motion, trauma, whiplash, inner ear infections, particles in the inner ear (read below), and brain tumors. Medical examinations often focus on evaluating for tumors and infections, and these should be ruled out. Fortunately, these causes of vertigo are rare, so when infections and tumors have been ruled out, conservative care may be the solution.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo2 (BPPV) is dizziness caused by displaced particles (calcium carbonate crystals called otoliths) in the inner ear. People with BPPV feel dizzy typically with changes of position, such as bending over and coming up, turning the head, rising from a seated position, or lying and turning over in bed. A chiropractic neurologist or other health care professional proficient in cerebellar, eye, and inner ear mechanisms can evaluate BPPV utilizing the Dix-Hallpike maneuver. Some dizziness and vertigo is caused by BPPV, but neck problems and cerebellar issues are more common causes.
Where Balance Comes From
Your body has three inputs for balance: eyes, inner ears, and nerve endings in your joints and muscles which are sensitive to gravity and motion. Assuming your eyes and ears are fine, your problem could be due to issues with these nerve endings, especially in your neck. These nerve endings buried in your muscles and joints are called mechanoreceptors (or proprioceptors). These mechanoreceptors are buried in the discs, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the spine, and are stimulated by healthy joint motion and gravity. The muscles and joints in your neck have a high concentration of these mechanoreceptors. If your spinal joints are stuck, stiff, injured and irritated, there is reduced mechanoreceptor stimulation of your cerebellum, and balance may suffer. Often one side of the neck is worse than the other, making matters worse. In my experience this is a frequent finding.
Evaluation and Correction
My approach includes a thorough health and injury history, evaluation of any existing diagnostic tests you may have had, an exam and a chiropractic evaluation. The exam includes a neck and spinal evaluation, cerebellum tests, eye motions, and balance tests. The Dix-Hallpike test may be performed in suitable cases to evaluate for BPPV. I will offer a working diagnosis and try to help you. If I think something else is causing your dizziness and vertigo, or if treatments at my office are unsuccessful, I will refer you to another physician or clinic for evaluation. I have had good success in helping people with dizziness and vertigo, but not every person responds to chiropractic care, exercises, and supplements.
If you respond to chiropractic care and other conservative measures, and you feel better, it’s not over. Prevention, although not perfect, is important. I will teach you several ways to improve the condition of your neck and spine, your posture, and your nervous system, to try to help prevent the return of dizziness and vertigo. You will be given spinal exercises, general fitness exercises, specific coordination and cerebellum exercises, and nutrition and supplement information for home. I have had some good success with difficult dizziness, vertigo, and BPPV cases, so if you know someone who is suffering, let them know about my program. I stand eager to try to help them enjoy their work, relationships playtime and hobbies again.
Fuller Chiropractic 576 Main St. Woburn, MA 01801 (781) 933-3332 firstname.lastname@example.org www.drscottfuller.com
1. Basic descriptions of dizziness and vertigo:
2. BPPV description and solutions: