Dizziness is often thought to arise from problems in the inner ear, as the inner ear is believed to be a center for maintaining equilibrium of the body. However, neck pathology is also now considered to be a reason for loss of equilibrium, which in medical parlance is given a new name; cervicogenic dizziness. Researchers have realized a link between neck pain/trauma and dizziness.
Cervicogenic dizziness is a diagnosis made among people who have dizziness together with neck pain/trauma and when all other causes of dizziness are ruled out. In this disorder, decrease in neck pain also alleviates dizziness.
The most common cause of cervicogenic dizziness is whiplash or head injury. Most patients improve with conservative treatment which includes medication, physiotherapy exercise, gentle neck movement, and maintain proper neck posture.
Causes Of Cervicogenic Dizziness
Spinal column in neck is called cervical spine. It is made up of seven vertebra one upon other. Function of cervical spine is to provide support and keep the head upright. The propriocetives impulses from the muscles and ligaments of neck provide information of the position of your head. Brain receives and processes the information from inner year, eyes and neck so as to keep the body balanced.
Pain and injury to neck can disrupt the balance information that brain analyzes from all three routes. The conflicting signal confuses brain and this misunderstanding by the brain results in sensation of dizziness and lightheadedness.
Patients who suffer from cervical spondylosis, traumatic injury to head or cervical spine, whiplash injury, or irritation of the nerve root may complain of cervical dizziness. Pressure on vertebral artery, faulty posture of head and neck, arthritis of cervical spine are some other triggers that may be associated with cervicogenic dizziness.
Signs And Symptoms Of Cervicogenic Dizziness
Most patients suffering from cervicogenic dizziness have history of pain and stiffness in neck. The symptoms are quiet disabling and uncomfortable. They can interfere in daily life of a person. The person may have following symptoms:
- Dizziness associated with movement of neck. Especially while sitting and sudden turning the neck will cause sense of light headedness and dizzy feeling.
- Feeling of imbalance while walking, standing or sitting.
- Nausea which may sometime worsen and cause vomiting.
- Visual disturbance with sudden movement of neck. Sees stars and floaters with sudden movement of neck.
- Pain and stiffness at the nape of neck.
- It may be accompanied with pain in ear or ringing in ear.
- Due to sudden episodes of dizziness, patient always fears of falling while walking or standing.
Natural Remedies For Cervicogenic Dizziness
Dizziness caused due to a patho-physiology in cervical region of neck is difficult to diagnose as there are many other causes such as vestibular neuritis, meniere’s disease, migraine associated dizziness etc. Therefore, cervicogenic dizziness is diagnosed only after all these disorders are excluded one by one. History of whiplash, head injury, ear pain helps in diagnosing the condition.
Treatment is conservative and patient usually recovers completely from the illness after a period of time. Following treatment will be effective:
- Alternate hot and cold fomentation is beneficial as it relaxes muscles of neck and increases circulation in the area.
- Avoid severe physical activities which may cause strain on vertebral column of cervical region.
- Physical therapy exercise is essential part of treatment. It helps to alleviate rigidity of neck and strengthen the ligaments attached to the vertebra. Rigidity of neck may interfere with the inner ear and vision, both of which play an important role in balancing the body.
- Sometimes use of medications such as anti-inflammatory medicines and antidepressants are beneficial to alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Herbal baths of rosemary and lavender alleviate pain and spasm of the neck as both have anti inflammatory medicines.