Post-Traumatic Vertigo: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment
Post-traumatic vertigo is the false feeling of spinning that occurs following a major or minor head or neck injury. Before we dig into post-traumatic vertigo, let’s first discuss what vertigo is.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a sensation of movement that is not accurate. It can give you a feeling that you or your world is spinning even when there is no actual movement. If you have vertigo, you may experience the symptoms below. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Often, they come and go.
- Feeling off balance
- Feeling like you are moving in one direction
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hearing loss
- Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
- Ringing in the ears or tinnitus
Causes of Vertigo
Most cases of vertigo arise from a problem in the inner ear. Here are some of the conditions that may bring vertigo:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This occurs when small calcium particles in the inner ear travel out of their original location and move into the fluid-filled canals of the inner ear. The inner ear relays signals to the brain about the body’s movement related to gravity. It is responsible for keeping our balance. BPPV can be age-related or may happen out of nowhere.
- Meniere’s disease: This inner ear disorder may occur due to an abnormal buildup of fluid that alters the pressures in the ear. It then results in fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo attacks.
- Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis: Most of the time, an infection or virus leading to inflammation of the nerves around the inner ear causes this condition. This impedes the body’s sense of balance.
Although less common, these vertigo can develop for other reasons:
- Certain medications that cause ear damage
- Brain problems such as stroke or tumor
- Head or neck injuries
Take note of the last thing we listed here: head or neck injuries. This is the point where we shift our topic to post-traumatic vertigo.
What Is Post-Traumatic Vertigo?
Each year, about 5% of the United States population suffers from head injuries. If you have post-traumatic vertigo, your vertigo comes after having a head or neck injury. Injuries to other parts of the body rarely result in vertigo. However, doctors are very cautious when giving a post-traumatic vertigo diagnosis.
Causes of Post-Traumatic Vertigo
There are many conditions associated with post-traumatic vertigo. Besides those conditions we have mentioned above, let’s go into the others and see how they connect to post-traumatic vertigo.
- A post-traumatic migraine: It is a type of migraine that has vertigo as a symptom. This usually occurs following a head injury.
- BPPV: Certain head movements or positions trigger BPPV. The blow to the head or neck can be the reason why the tiny calcium particles in the inner ear move to a place where they should not belong. This leads to problems in balance. Several therapies can reposition the particles.
- Labyrinthine concussion: This is an inconstant hearing or labyrinthine disturbance that occurs after a head injury. To get a diagnosis, you should have hearing loss or nystagmus.Meniere’s disease: A hard hit to the head can damage the drainage pathways of the ears, resulting in improper draining of fluid.
- Temporal bone fracture: When the skull gets fractured, the onset of severe vertigo is expected. This can come along with hearing loss or peripheral facial weakness (Bell’s palsy).
- Perilymph fistula: This occurs when straining or blowing the nose.
- Cervical vertigo: This severe imbalance occurs after a neck injury. Neck posture or alignment is a critical element for this condition.
- Epileptic vertigo: This can occur with a brain injury, particularly involving the temporal lobe that deals with vestibular signals. During the time of injury, loss of consciousness may be experienced.
- Factitious vertigo: Psychological causes such as depression and anxiety can contribute to the onset of vertigo.
- Post-concussion syndrome: Dizziness, headache, and cognitive difficulties combine into one syndrome following a head injury.
How to Treat Post-Traumatic Vertigo Naturally
Before we reveal a natural solution that can help with post-traumatic vertigo, you should understand why head and neck injuries cause vertigo. The spine does the critical job of protecting the spinal cord. The C1 and C2 vertebrae, which are in the upper neck, protect the brainstem. The brainstem and spinal cord serve as the communication highway between the brain and the body. The brain can figure out where the body is in its environment, thanks to the brainstem. If either the C1 or C2 misalign due to a head or neck injury, the brainstem can undergo stress. This leads to the malfunction of the brainstem and the sending of improper signals to the brain. The brain also receives messages from other receptors in the body. If these signals don’t match up, vertigo can persist.
Research spearheaded by Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor, observed 60 patients who had vertigo. Out of the 60 patients, 56 reported having an accident that affected their head or neck before the onset of vertigo. After receiving upper cervical chiropractic care, as many as 48 reported complete elimination of their vertigo. Others reported a big improvement in their symptoms.
If you need a Michigan vertigo specialist, our team here at Premier Family Wellness and Spinal Care in Farmington, Michigan, is at your service. We use the exact method as the one in the study above. Our technique is gentle and does not rely on force to adjust the bones back into place. Instead, we encourage them to return into place naturally, giving them ample time to stay in place longer and enable the body to heal. Many of our patients have been happy to end their vertigo in a short period of time.