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Vertigo 101: Explaining the Inner Ear Function

Every Sacramento based vertigo chiropractor would agree that vertigo is a challenging condition to deal with, not just for patients, but even healthcare professionals. 

However, when the sensation of spinning develops out of nowhere or following an injury, vertigo can be a symptom of an underlying condition. Attacks of this kind of vertigo often persist for several hours or days.

Explaining the Function of the Inner Ear 

The vestibular system, which decodes the information about equilibrium, motion, and spatial orientation in the body, resides in the inner ear. How does it function?

Sound waves move into the outer ear canal and make their way all through the eardrum where they become vibrations. The inner ear transmits these vibrations through a triad of small bones— the incus, malleus, and stapes— to the cochlea. Then, they reach the vestibular nerve, which sends signals to the brain. 

The inner ear also has semicircular canals located at right angles to each other. These canals stand at intervals with sensitive cells that serve as a gyroscope for the body. These structures, along with the hair cells of the canals, provide prompt feedback to the brain regarding the body’s location in its surroundings. Vertigo begins if something is not functioning properly among the parts of the inner ear. 

Possible Causes of Vertigo

Vertigo arises for several reasons. To better explain it, here are the two types of vertigo and their origins. 

  • Peripheral Vertigo: This results from an issue in the inner ear.
  • Central Vertigo: This stems from a problem in the central nervous system (brain or spinal cord).

One of the most common causes of vertigo— benign paroxysmal positional vertigo— develops due to small crystals that move to the wrong area of the inner ear. Because they are in the place where they should not belong, they irritate the small hair cells in the semicircular canals. This irregularity in the inner ear results in vertigo. Illnesses and infections also result in the swelling of the inner ear, which leads to vertigo.

Meniere’s disease is another condition that brings about vertigo. It arises due to the buildup of excessive fluid in the inner ear. Its symptoms are vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss. 

Some other causes of vertigo are: 

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tumors
  • Strokes
  • Migraines
  • Head or neck injuries

General Symptoms of Vertigo

Things such as changing the position of the head too quickly or rolling over in bed can instigate vertigo or worsen it. In general, patients with vertigo experience these common symptoms: 

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Imbalance
  • Hearing loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nystagmus (abnormal eye movement)
  • Headache
  • Sweating

People Who Are at Risk for Vertigo

Everyone can have vertigo, but these people are more prone to developing the symptom than others. 

  • Older women
  • Alcohol drinkers
  • Smokers
  • Those with heart disease
  • Those with diabetes
  • People with hypertension
  • People taking medication for depression or blood pressure
  • Those with a history of head or neck injuries 

Vertigo Studies Approve Upper Cervical Care

Many case studies have provided pieces of evidence on the effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic care for vertigo relief. Let’s go over the results of these two compelling studies below.

One study assessed 139 patients who had vertigo due to Meniere’s disease. They all had endured trauma or injury to the head or neck before the onset of their Meniere’s. In addition, all of them had a misalignment in either their C1 or C2 vertebrae, the top bones of the cervical spine. Most of them acquired these from car accidents. After receiving upper cervical care, 136 patients showed improvement in their vertigo symptoms. Some experienced even resolution of their vertigo altogether after only a few adjustments. 

The second study involved 60 patients with vertigo. Out of the 60, about 56 had trauma to their head or neck. These stemmed from sporting accidents, car accidents, and trips and falls. The patients also had a misalignment in the top two bones of the neck. Following six months of care, all of them saw their vertigo improved. Around 48 patients saw their vertigo disappeared completely. 

Relief with the Help of a Sacramento Based Vertigo Chiropractor

The link between misaligned bones in the upper neck and vertigo is undeniable. In fact, it is another common underlying cause of vertigo. 

The C1 and C2 vertebrae sit just at the base of the skull, making it prone to misaligning. They protect the brainstem, but when they misalign, the opposite occurs. They put the brainstem under pressure, causing it to relay distorted signals to the brain about the body’s position in its environment. When the brain reads these incorrect signals along with mismatched signals from the eyes and ears, symptoms of vertigo can be the undesirable results. 

Upper cervical chiropractors use a gentle technique that encourages the bones to realign into position more naturally. Many patients see their vertigo get better just as those people in the above studies did. Message us here at Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Sacramento in Sacramento, California to try the benefits and healing potential of upper cervical chiropractic care.

Contact Dr. Gottlieb in their Sacramento, CA practice.

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