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Dealing with vertigo: cause and treatment

Published:Monday | August 18, 2014 | 8:00 AM

Dr Neil Gardner, Gleaner Writer

Many people suffer from dizziness, the perception of spinning, without there being any actual motion - known medically as vertigo. There are two basic types: (1) the feeling that you are spinning, and (2) the sensation that the room is spinning and you are stationary. There are other conditions that are sometimes included when considering dizziness, for example, motion sickness, light-headedness and unsteadiness.

Vertigo is Just a Symptom

Vertigo is often associated with nausea and sometimes vomiting, and may be due to a problem within the balance centres of the brain itself, or within the inner ears. Other common problems that may cause dizziness include inner-ear infections, hypoglycaemia, low blood pressure, and neck injury from a whiplash accident. Some causes may not be due to a disease process or illness, and include vertigo caused by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, intake of certain medications or after repetitively spinning around. The key to successfully addressing a patient with dizziness is a proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying problem causing it and not just the suppression of the dizzy sensation.

When is Dizziness a Serious Concern?

Sometimes dizziness may indicate a serious problem. You should seek immediate medical attention if your dizziness is accompanied by slurred speech, blurred vision, disturbed or lowered consciousness, or confusion. The same is true if you have dizziness that is persistent, lasting hours or days, and does not improve with eyes closed or after changing positions or remaining still.

Chiropractic Adjustments Can Eliminate Dizziness

There are two common causes of vertigo that can be treated easily with chiropractic care. They are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and cervicogenic vertigo.

BPPV is classically defined as a sudden onset of very intense dizziness when the head is tilted in specific positions. It usually only lasts about a minute or two and typically does not recur when the action is immediately repeated. The most common position is when lying on your back or when tilting the head backwards as when looking up on the top shelf in a supermarket or when trying to gargle.

This type of vertigo can be treated by performing the Epley's Maneuver to reposition the loose crystals. Many chiropractors, and in particular chiropractic neurologists, some physiotherapists and medical doctors are trained to perform Epley's Maneuver.

Cervicogenic vertigo is dizziness of a cervical spine (neck) origin and is a common feature of a whiplash injury. Only the chiropractor is suitably trained to safely and effectively handle this type, which tends to be accompanied by neck pain, arm pain, or hand/finger numbness and tingling. Prior to administration of treatment, it may be necessary for the chiropractor to evaluate an X-ray or MRI of the cervical spine in order to determine the severity of the problem and the appropriateness of chiropractic care.

For more information, contact: Neil Gardner, DC, DACNB, Diplomate, American Chiropractic Neurology Board;Chiropractic Neurologist, Gardner Chiropractic & Neurology Ltd.www.gcnjamaica.com.Phone: 876-978-1050-1, or 876-622-9241, or 214-432-5464 (From the USA)