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What is Cervical Vertigo?


Cervical vertigo, or any kind of vertigo at that matter, can be a frightening feeling. There are dozens of different causes that can attribute to the sensations that you possess, from dehydration, electrolyte and vitamin deficiency, low blood sugar, low or high blood pressure, to the often misdiagnosed, cervical vertigo. But what exactly is cervical vertigo, or otherwise known as, cervicogenic dizziness? Are there different types? Different causes? Let's dive in to get a better understanding of it and how we can treat it.

Where is The Cervical Spine Located?

First, we need to know where the cervical spine is located. A lot of big and fancy terms can be thrown around and it is good have an understanding of the human anatomy before we go further. The 'cervical spine' is the medical term for the vertebrae and its surrounding structures within the neck. There are 7 cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) in the neck, with the top two (C1-C2) called Atlas and Axis, respectively.

What Does Cervical Vertigo Feel Like?

'Vertigo' by definition is a sensation of spinning and/or a loss of balance, also creating feelings of nausea and/or light-headedness. When I was in college, I had a fair share of beverages once (or twice...maybe more), creating the lovely sensation of a spinning room as I lay in bed. That is vertigo.

Now, ever since my neck started giving me issues, I feel more like I am on a rocking boat, navigating through harsh waters. It happens when I am lying down in bed as well. Although vertigo states 'loss of balance' in its definition, loss of balance is mostly attributed to 'dizziness'. Visual disturbances such as blurred and double vision are also very common.

But in this day and age, vertigo and dizziness are almost used interchangeably.

What Causes Cervical Vertigo?

This is where it can get interesting and complicated. On a very basic level, cervical vertigo can spawn from, but is not limited to, neck disorders, physical or emotional trauma, concussions, temporomandibular joint disfunction (TMD or TMJ), tight muscles, pinched nerves, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or poor neck posture. In this case, we are not necessarily talking about vertigo caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BBPV) which is a disorder of the inner ear. When being checked for vertigo, a BBPV test is usually the first stop. Once that is ruled out, it is then onto further evaluations.

Diving deeper into more of the complicated aspects of balance disfunction, we should talk about what helps us to know where our head is in space. Balance is maintained through a joint operation with your eyes, muscles and joints (especially those of the upper neck), and the two vestibular organs of the inner ear. When any of these are injured, malfunctioning, or disrupted, feelings of loss of coordination, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, vision problems, fatigue, and even anxiety and panic can occur.

What triggers cervical Vertigo?

This can differ from person to person, but for example, any wrong tweak of my neck or too much stretching can cause a vertigo attack. I had one bad experience from a chiropractor that unfortunately sent me down as well. If it is a really bad injury or bad tweak in my neck, I can be bedridden and nausea for upwards of a week! Not fun.

I also noticed that when I am anxious that it causes my dizziness to get worse. It's as if when I get anxious and my neck muscles tighten up, it puts pressure on nerves and stops proper blood flow to the head. Now, this has not been proven yet, but this is just my observation and logical thinking.

How is cervical vertigo treated?

There are many different options to treat cervical vertigo. Some may work better than others, some may not work at all. It all depends on the person. In my case, sometimes they don't work at all and I am in for the ride. But not to discourage you, here are some things that help me a good majority of the time:

  • Ice and heat therapy

  • Calming teas such as chamomile, mint, and lavender

  • Epsom salt bath

  • CBD topical and tincture

  • Wine (not necessarily recommending this, but it DOES in relaxing muscles)

  • Dramamine (sometimes works, sometimes doesn't)

  • Self or professional massage

  • Meditation

  • Tai-Chi

  • Light stretching

  • Binaural beats or calming music

  • Sleep

Now that is definitely more of the holistic route, but seeing medical professionals can help as well. They will most likely recommend physical therapy/vestibular therapy first as well some sort of anti-inflammatory regime, whether through diet or medication. If those prove ineffective, options of nerve blocks, cortisone shots, and lastly, surgery, are all options to help the pain and discomfort.

Doctors I would recommend seeing first would be your Primary Care Professional (PCPC), a neurologist, orthopedic specialist, ear nose & throat specialist (ENT), and possibly a chiropractor, although use sound judgment.

Can Fatigue Cause Dizziness?


I am NOT a medical professional. I am strictly going off of my personal experiences and countless hours of research. I have been in and out of doctors offices for about two years now, with some progress in finding the culprit to my balance issues, but not solving it completely. I hope that with my past experience and knowledge, I can help you to find your balance again!

Thank you for being here.

-The Dizzy Dude

What is cervical vertigo? <---Medium Blog Post

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This information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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