Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Beth Skwarecki
Vertigo is dizziness characterized by a sensation of spinning or movement even when you are stationary. It can be a very disorienting and unsettling feeling, significantly affecting your quality of life. Chiropractic care is a natural and non-invasive form of healthcare that has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including vertigo.
Chiropractors focus on the spine and nervous system, and they use various techniques to help improve the functioning of these systems. The question is: Can a chiropractor help with vertigo? In this article, we will explore the possible causes of vertigo, the chiropractic care options available for its treatment, and other treatments available to patients. We will also discuss when it is appropriate to seek chiropractic care for vertigo and the importance of seeking medical advice.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo is dizziness characterized by a feeling of spinning or movement, even when stationary. It is not the same as feeling lightheaded or faint. Vertigo can cause various symptoms, including a sense of tilting or swaying, loss of balance or coordination, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty standing or walking. The sensation of vertigo can be brief or last for several hours or even days, and it can significantly affect a person’s daily life. Various factors, including inner ear disorders, migraines, medications, and head injuries, can cause vertigo.
Types Of Vertigo
There are two main types of vertigo:
- Peripheral vertigo
- Central vertigo
Peripheral vertigo is caused by inner ear problems, which are responsible for our sense of balance. The most common causes of peripheral vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), caused by the displacement of calcium crystals in the inner ear, and Meniere’s disease, caused by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. Other causes of peripheral vertigo include vestibular neuritis, an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, and labyrinthitis, which is an inner ear inflammation.
Central vertigo, on the other hand, is caused by problems in the central nervous system, which includes the brainstem and cerebellum. Central vertigo is less common than peripheral vertigo and is often more severe. Causes of central vertigo include multiple sclerosis, stroke, and tumors in the brain or cerebellum.
What Causes Vertigo?
Various factors, including inner ear disorders, migraines, medications, and head injuries, can cause vertigo. Here are some of the most common causes of vertigo:
- Inner Ear Disorders: The inner ear is responsible for our sense of balance, so any problems with the inner ear can cause vertigo. The most common inner ear disorders that cause vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis, and labyrinthitis.
- Migraines: Some people with migraines experience vertigo as a symptom. This type of vertigo is often associated with other symptoms, such as headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and blood pressure medications, can cause vertigo as a side effect.
- Head Injuries: Trauma to the head can cause vertigo by disrupting the inner ear or the central nervous system.
- Other Causes: Other less common causes of vertigo include acoustic neuroma, a type of tumor that grows on the vestibular nerve, and vestibular migraine, a type of migraine that causes vertigo and other vestibular symptoms.
Chiropractic Care For Vertigo
Chiropractic care for vertigo focuses on the spine and nervous system. The spine is connected to the vestibular system, responsible for our sense of balance. Misalignments in the spine can cause pressure on the nerves connecting to the vestibular system, leading to vertigo. Chiropractors use various techniques to help improve the functioning of the spine and nervous system, which can help alleviate symptoms of vertigo. Here are some of the chiropractic techniques that may help with vertigo:
- Spinal Manipulation: Spinal manipulation is a technique that involves applying a controlled force to the spine to realign the vertebrae. This can help relieve pressure on the nerves that connect to the vestibular system and improve overall spinal health.
- Epley Maneuver: The Epley Manoeuvre is a specific technique for treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is caused by the displacement of calcium crystals in the inner ear. The Epley maneuver involves moving the head and body in specific ways to help reposition the crystals in the inner ear.
Evidence Supporting Chiropractic Care For Vertigo
Studies have suggested that chiropractic manipulation may be a helpful adjunct therapy for certain types of vertigo. One study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic treatment, including spinal manipulation and exercise, was effective in reducing the severity and frequency of vertigo symptoms in patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Another study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that chiropractic adjustments were effective in reducing vertigo symptoms in patients with cervicogenic dizziness. A systematic review of the literature on chiropractic treatment for vertigo published in the journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies found that while there was limited evidence supporting the use of chiropractic care for vertigo, the available evidence suggests that chiropractic manipulation may be helpful in reducing vertigo symptoms in certain patients. More research is needed to better understand the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic care for vertigo.
Other Treatments For Vertigo
In addition to chiropractic care, several other treatments may be effective for vertigo. The appropriate treatment will depend on the underlying cause of vertigo. Here are some common treatments for vertigo:
- Medications: Medications can treat vertigo caused by inner ear disorders or other medical conditions. These may include antihistamines, anticholinergics, and benzodiazepines.
- Vestibular Rehabilitation: Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of physical therapy that focuses on exercises designed to improve the functioning of the vestibular system. This can help alleviate symptoms of vertigo and improve balance.
- Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers: Canalith repositioning maneuvers are techniques used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). These techniques involve moving the head and body in specific ways to help reposition calcium crystals in the inner ear.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary in rare cases of vertigo caused by structural abnormalities in the inner ear.
- Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes may be recommended to help manage symptoms of vertigo. This may include avoiding certain activities that trigger vertigo, such as driving or reading in a moving vehicle, or modifying the home environment to reduce the risk of falls.
When To See A Chiropractor For Vertigo
Patients may consider seeing a chiropractor for vertigo if misalignments or other spine and nervous system issues cause their vertigo. Here are some signs that may indicate it is appropriate to see a chiropractor for vertigo:
- Symptoms of Cervicogenic Vertigo: Cervicogenic vertigo is a type of vertigo caused by issues in the neck and spine. Patients with cervicogenic vertigo may experience dizziness, imbalance, and neck pain. If a patient’s vertigo is suspected to be caused by cervicogenic vertigo, a chiropractor may be able to provide treatment.
- Recent Trauma or Injury: Patients who have experienced trauma or injury, such as a car accident or sports injury, may benefit from chiropractic care for vertigo. In some cases, misalignments in the spine can result from trauma or injury, leading to vertigo.
- Limited Improvement with Other Treatments: Patients who have tried other treatments for vertigo, such as medications or vestibular rehabilitation, without significant improvement may consider chiropractic care.
Vertigo is a common condition that various factors, including inner ear disorders, vestibular migraines, and neck and spine issues, can cause. While chiropractic care may be effective for certain types of vertigo, it is essential to consider the risks and limitations of this treatment. To manage their vertigo symptoms, patients should also explore other treatment options, such as medications, vestibular rehabilitation, and lifestyle changes. If you are experiencing vertigo, you must talk to a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and the best treatment for your specific needs.
Beth is Cloudmineinc’s senior health editor and a certified personal trainer. She has over 10 years experience as a science journalist and is the author of two books. She deadlifts over 315 lbs.