In part 1 of neck pain, vertigo, and dizziness, I posed the question on whether or not a relationship exists between neck pain and vertigo, and IF SO, we could help both our neck pain and vertigo or dizziness problem by focusing on any associated neck problems that you might have as well.
The importance of the relationship between neck pain and vertigo
The relationship between neck pain and vertigo is extremely important. That’s because if you google drug treatments for vertigo, you will see a host of pharmaceuticals for this condition, and any time we can avoid taking medication for something we can help naturally, then you’ve vastly improved your overall health.
We stated in part 1 of my series of neck pain and vertigo, that the center in the brain(stem) responsible for balance is called the vestibular nucleus.
We also stated that 4 sources of inputing of information to the vestibular nucleus are: 1) Inner ear (Labyrinthine), 2) the cerebellum, 3) the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and 4) C1-3, and this type of vertigo is called Cervical Vertigo, Cervicogenic Vertigo, or neck pain and vertigo.
NECK PAIN AND VERTIGO AKA CERVICAL VERTIGO:
Clinicians have documented a relationship between cervical spine trauma and the symptoms of vertigo. Dr. Linda Luxon notes in her chapter titled “posttraumatic vertigo” (1) that this type of vertigo can be explained by ‘disruption of cervical proprioceptive input’.
Proprioception comes from the latin word proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception-is one of the human senses. Thus one’s own human sense, functions to sense orientation of ones limbs in space.
In the case of the neck or cervical spine, we have proprioceptors throughout the anatomy of the neck that sense stretch or quick movements, and ultimately tell our brain where we are in space and time.
The information of where our head is space gets relayed or sent to the vestibular nulcei, with the major signals being sent from the joints and capsules in the neck.
The major implication of these findings is that problems in the upper cervical spine joints (or neck in general) is that they can alter the signals being sent to the vertigo centers in the brain, and result in VERTIGO! Better yet, neck pain and vertigo are definitely related.
The Relationship Between Neck Pain and Vertigo Always Us to Try And Fix Both:
Now that we know that a relationship between neck pain and vertigo certainly exist, treatment would be to improve the mechanical function of these joints, and not just focusing on taking medication to control the symptoms of both neck pain and vertigo.
So, the question becomes, why don’t you know about this? That is, why aren’t you told that that accident you had, that one that you injured your neck, also caused you to have vertigo.
That is, if you would have focused on fixing your neck pain, you could have improved your vertigo, because a definite relationship exist between neck pain and vertigo.
So why don’t you know about this relationship?
Not to get too political, but, the drug industry is a Multi Billion dollar industry, and they have a stake at promoting their products. Unfortunately, as well, in general, society is looking for a magic pill. One that we go to bed at night with, and wake up in the morning with whatever we took the pill for fixing the problem.
That is the “should be world” and unfortunately, we live in the “is world” .
The is world when it comes to vertigo, dizziness and neck pain, IS to improve the “mechanical function of thes joints”, fix the faulty signals being sent to the vertigo centers in the brain, and fix the vertigo, dizziness, and neck problems.
I know that If I where you, I would be asking right about now “What the heck is mechanical function of the neck joints???”. and more importantly, “how do I fix the mechanical function of the neck joints”????
Well great question, funny you should ask. I try to explain things in a simple and easy analogies to understand things that we may not be familiar with. So, think about our joints in the neck like a door hinge.
All we have to do is push the door and viola, it swings open. Two joints in the body that are called hinge joints are the elbow and knee.
These joints can swinge open and closed, or flex and extend in one direction, like a hinge joint of a door (more or less). But think about when that hinge joint becomes faulty.
Perhaps it is rusty, or not lubricated properly, the joint stops working properly. When that happens, the door may not open up as much, the joint my grind, and then it really becomes difficult to get through the doorway.
If we force the door too much, where the hinge is mounted to the framework, that may begin to loosen up as well. Now you have an even bigger problem.
Well the neck joints are similar in the way they breakdown. The joints in the spine or called facet joints (see above diagram for an illustration). In the case of the facet joints in the neck, when we bend our neck to look downwards, the joints open up or seperate.
When we look up to the sky, the joints bear down on each other and come together. We also have the ability to turn left and right, and laterally flex each ear to the respected shoulder. This is what we call “normal joint mechanics” or mechanical function of the neck joints.
So how do we fix this mechanical function in the neck? Well, techniques to improve range of motion, in all directions is the first suggestion. In order to do that, we have to first determine what ranges of motion or what direction we are limited in.
As a quick reference, AMA guidlines for spinal motion are as follows
Flexion= 60 degrees
Extension= 75 degrees
Cervical Right Lateral Flexion= 40 degrees
Cervical Left Lateral Flexion= 40 degrees
Cervical Right Rotation = 80 degrees
Cervical Left Rotation = 80 degrees
How to fix your neck pain and vertigo.
So step 1. would be to evaluate your own range of motion with the “eyeball method” and determine if you have a) full ranges in all direction b) painfree movement b) symmetry between left and right motions (that is, left motion is as good as right motion and vice versa).
Once you have determined any “dysfunctions with your range of motion, you are ready to go on to step 2.
So keep posted for my 3rd and final installment of Neck Pain and Vertigo, or Dizziness, are they related? where I continue to give you valuable information to help to improve your mechanical function of your neck and get rid of your vertigo once and for all.
Till next time, watching your back (and neck).
Luxon L. “Posttraumatic Vertigo” in Disorder of the Vestibular System, edited by Robert W. Baloh and G. Michael Halmagyi, Oxford University Press, 1996
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