The brain depends on sensory input from the inner ears, eyes and specialized nerve endings in and around the joints to provide information regarding movement and spatial orientation.
Any disruption in any of these symptoms can interfere with normal balance and positioning. Even though vertigo is most often linked to a condition affecting the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear, some causes of vertigo are due to issues in the cervical spine. The possible causes for this type of vertigo include arthritis, trauma as well as chronic neck pain.
Do I have cervical vertigo?
A commonly used screening test is carried out to distinguish cervical vertigo from vestibular vertigo. The initial phase of the test is to turn the head of the individual from side to side several times in sequence. In case vertigo is increased by these motions, it might be linked to motion affecting the inner ear or the cervical spine.
In the second phase, the individual is seated on a swivel chair. The head is held motionless by the doctor as the chair is swiveled back and forth, causing motion in the neck but not the inner ear. In case this phase increases vertigo, the likely source is the cervical spine.
Individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain have difficulty when asked to accurately imitate certain postures of the neck and head. Many individuals who experienced dizziness were able to improve the exactness of the neck and head positioning after specific treatments were started to deal with the underlying cervical spine issues.
In these studies, it indicated that impaired motion of the neck can lead to the disturbances in the sensory nerves in the joints and muscles of the cervical spine. Take note that these nerves provide faulty information to the brain, resulting to diminished positioning sense or dizziness.
Both vertigo and degenerative arthritis are common among the elderly. In one study conducted, it was discovered that degenerative arthritis of the neck was quite common among those who have vertigo. There is also an increased likelihood for vertigo if the degenerative changes are severe. An important finding is that there is a clear link between the presence of vertigo and disrupted circulation via the vertebral arteries due to the arthritic changes in the area.
Some individuals who sustain whiplash injuries experience vertigo or dizziness as an associated symptom. The deficits in the neck and head positioning accuracy have been reported among individuals with whiplash. Even though these symptoms might be due to the same mechanisms among those who have non-traumatic neck pain, the dizziness might be due to changes in the blood flow via the vertebral arteries that feed into the brainstem.
Depending on the exact cause for the cervical vertigo experienced by the individual, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor so that proper assessment can be carried out as well as start the suitable treatment.