Can it help my dizziness?
On her initial visit to my chiropractic office, a patient asked me if I could alleviate her dizziness. She had been in a car accident and suffered whiplash injuries to the neck. While I can never promise a cure, I told him that if we worked together as a team, we had a good chance of improving his condition. This article will discuss how dizziness can develop when a neck injury occurs, how chiropractic care can be helpful, and recent research supporting the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for this problem.
When a person sustains an accidental neck injury, whether from a car accident, fall, blow to the head, or other traumatic event, many symptoms can occur. Of all the symptoms, dizziness may be the most worrisome for a patient because of how it can limit their ability to move in their daily routines.
Our balance is primarily a function of three areas of the body that provide sensory input. The first is our eyes. We all know that if we close our eyes, we lose our sense of balance. The second area is the balancing mechanism of our ears. This is called the vestibular system. You may have had the experience of being submerged for a short time in cold water and then experiencing some short-term dizziness and imbalance when you came out of the water. This was because the vestibular system of the ear was affected by the coldness of the water. The last area that provides sensory information for balance is the body’s joints. Especially the joints of the feet, hips and upper neck send information about balance to our brain.
In a traumatic neck injury, the vertebral bones in the neck, called vertebrae, undergo a whipping action that can cause abnormal misalignment of position. Thus the term “whiplash” was coined. It is more of a lay term than a medical description. Misalignment of the vertebrae can cause significant neck pain, but because the joints provide sensory balance information to the brain, dizziness can also be an accompanying symptom of a whiplash injury.
In 2019, a research study was conducted in which gentle and safe chiropractic realignment treatments were administered to 86 patients suffering from chronic dizziness that had occurred from trauma to the neck. Participating patients in the group experienced an improvement in their dizziness and balance. The authors of the treatment concluded that chiropractic care was beneficial in the case of dizziness due to trauma to the neck.
Chiropractors are trained to evaluate neck injuries. In an initial visit to a chiropractic physician, a patient can expect to be asked questions about the type of trauma that occurred and what symptoms the patient is experiencing. Next, a chiropractor will perform an exam of the neck area. Objective tests noting muscle spasms, swelling and inflammation, loss of range of motion, abnormal alignment, and lack of proper movement of the cervical vertebrae and joints are usually examined. Neck radiographs are usually obtained to further inspect for trauma.
Once the chiropractor has thoroughly evaluated the patient’s injuries, it can be determined if chiropractic care is appropriate. When this is the case, the chiropractor will use gentle and safe chiropractic adjustments to realign and restore proper movement of the vertebral joints in the patient’s cervical spine. Specific exercises to increase flexibility and improve strength in the area can also be of great help to the patient. The use of therapeutic measures such as repeated application of cold compresses to the neck by the patient can also relieve pain and speed healing.
I can happily report that the patient who came to see me hoping to improve her dizziness experienced a total elimination of her condition. His balance problems were completely resolved and he was able to go about his daily activities without any problems. If patients and their chiropractic doctors work together, with good teamwork, the patient, who suffers from dizziness, may have a good outcome.