Dizziness and vertigo are very common subjective symptoms prompting people to consult their physicians. Dizziness refers to a feeling of lightheadedness, weakness, or unsteadiness. The term vertigo is reserved for a false sense of motion–usually a spinning or rotating motion–that a person feels when he or she is stationary. Making the distinction between dizziness and vertigo is important because true vertigo is often caused by an inner-ear disease, especially if hearing loss, ear pressure, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is present. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. Dizziness, on the other hand, is associated with a wide variety of conditions such as central nervous system disorders (such as stroke); cardiovascular disease; head injury, or; other diseases (such as Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear) or other conditions. Both dizziness and vertigo, however, may be temporary and harmless or indicate the presence of a more serious illness.
HOW BLAIR UPPER CERVICAL TREATMENT CAN HELP
Because the cervical spine is so important in eye, head, and body movement and orientation, a vertebral subluxation (misalignment of the spinal bones) can cause the feeling of dizziness or vertigo. A specific type of vertigo known as cervicogenic vertigo usually is the result of trauma to the cervical spine. Sensory organs, including the eyes, ears, and sinuses, receive their nerve supply from the nerves of the upper cervical spine. Therefore, when the upper cervical spine misaligns, these nerves can become irritated and affect the sensory organs. This irritation can cause vertigo.
Specific imaging studies of the cervical (upper neck) region are taken to locate a misalignment of the vertebrae. TYTRON-5000 technology is used to scan and measure the nervous system for possible irritation. If a misalignment causing nerve irritation is found, then very specific gentle adjustments are made, by hand, to correct the misaligned vertebrae in the neck.
Brandt, T. Vertigo: Its Multisensory Symptoms. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1999.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Web site. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov. Accessed March 8, 2005.
Vestibular Disorder Association Web site. Available at: http://www.vestibular.org. Accessed March 8, 2005.
- American Academy of Ototolaryngology
- Professional association that offers patient information on balance disorders and treatment.
- Web site providing useful information and resources on balance disorders and treatment options.
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Branch of the National Institutes of Health; good source of information on balance disorders.
- Vestibular Disorder Association
- Provides useful information on dizziness and vertigo and associated conditions.
There are several inner ear disorders that cause dizziness or vertigo, nausea, hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Although symptoms may differ from patient to patient, there often is a common link with inner ear disorders and injuries or trauma to the upper cervical spine (neck).
Inner Ear Disorders – Vertigo or Dizziness
Vertigo is the false sensation of movement or dizziness as if the world was spinning. This can range from mild episodes to severe, extended attacks. Vertigo is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, malaise, hearing loss, tinnitus (ear ringing), and a feeling of ear fullness or pressure. There are several different types of vertigo, including positional, post-traumatic and cervicogenic vertigo (dizziness caused by the neck).
Dizziness, instability and imbalance occur in approximately 50% of all head and/or neck injuries. This includes even mild injuries that don’t require medical attention. According to medical literature, vertigo can also be caused by hyperactivity or irritation to the joints and nerves in the upper neck which assist in the coordination of the eye, head, and body, as well as control posture and spatial orientation.
Meniere’s disease is a disorder characterized by sudden, recurring attacks of disabling vertigo (a whirling sensation), hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last two to three hours, but can sometimes last for days. A sufferer sometimes feels fullness or pressure in the affected ear. Hearing tends to fluctuate but worsens over the years. Tinnitus, which may be constant or intermittent, may be worse before, during, or after an attack of vertigo. Both hearing loss and tinnitus usually affect only one ear. In some cases of Meniere’s disease, hearing loss and tinnitus precede the first attack of vertigo by months or years.
In the book, What Time Tuesday? Dr. Kevin Broome, an Upper Cervical doctor in Hickory, N.C., describes his battle with Meniere’s disease. As a child, Broome was so sick that he fell on the floor with dizziness, hearing loss, nausea, and projectile vomiting. He writes, “I was told that the only medical solution was to destroy the ‘balance’ nerve in my inner ear. As a result of the surgery, I would never run, play soccer, go swimming, and, worst of all, never go to bed without a light on because the surgery would destroy my body’s computer mechanism.” A shunt was put into Broome’s ear to reduce the amount of fluid that built up. This helped with the hearing loss, but all the other symptoms remained. By this time, I was missing more than 90 days of school a year! “
Broome continues, “I regained my hearing within fifteen minutes of my first Upper Cervical correction. This Upper Cervical chiropractor gave me my life back, so that I could function as others did. He gave me the ability to return to school, be part of a state-championship soccer team, go to college, and, in hindsight, he gave me the ability to help hundreds of thousands of suffering people”.
Inner Ear Disorders & Trauma
Available research shows the relationship between inner ear disorders, (vertigo, tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, etc.) and trauma, trauma that can range from a mild bump on the head to a fall, a concussion, or even whiplash from a motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Inner ear disorders can appear immediately after trauma or take months or years to develop.
The vestibular system includes the eyes, inner ear, upper neck joints and brainstem, which collaborate to control balance. Damage to this system can result in sensations of vertigo or dizziness, which can range from mild, transient episodes to severe, extended attacks. Often, additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, malaise, hearing loss, tinnitus (ear ringing), and a feeling of ear fullness or pressure accompany the dizziness / vertigo. Types of vestibular disorders include:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) – dizziness triggered by specific changes in the position of the head and neck, such as tipping the head up or down, lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed;
- Meniere’s Disease – sensation of vertigo along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear;
- Disembarkment Syndrome – the illusion of movement felt as an after effect of travel by ship, boat, train or plane; difficulty maintaining balance; extreme fatigue; and difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”);
- Labyrinthitis – sensation of vertigo with inner ear involvement, and sometimes ringing in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear;
- Cervicogenic Vertigo – dizziness accompanied by neck pain;
- Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV) – attacks of dizziness and imbalance accompanying a migraine headache.
How Upper Cervical Care Relates to Dizziness / Vertigo / Vestibular Disorders
The body of medical literature detailing a possible trauma-induced (concussion, whiplash, etc.) etiology for vestibular disorders, or at least a contribution, is substantial.1-16 In fact, researchers have pinpointed a mechanism for certain types of vertigo originating from neck dysfunction, also known as “cervicogenic vertigo“.16-28 According to medical literature, vertigo can be elicited by hyperactivity of spinovestibular afferents (irritated joints in the upper neck). Since the cervical afferents (neck joints) assist in the coordination of the eye, head, and body, spatial orientation and control of posture, a stimulation and/or lesion in these structures can produce vertigo.16-27
Following the trauma, vestibular disorders can be triggered immediately or they can take months or years to develop. The purpose of upper cervical chiropractic care is to reverse the trauma-induced upper neck injury, thereby reducing irritation to the nerves that trigger vertigo. While many vertigo sufferers recall specific traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents or falls, some do not. An evaluation is necessary in each individual’s case to assess whether an upper cervical injury is present and whether benefit from BLAIR UPPER CERVICAL TREATMENT can be achieved.
Case Studies – Dizziness / Vertigo / Vestibular Disorders
Female, Age 21 years, Migraine Headaches, Dizzy spells, Depression
This 21-year-old female had been suffering from 3-6 migraines per week and approximately 3 dizzy spells per week for the previous few years. She also had been suffering from depression. She had fallen and suffered a concussion 5 years prior and felt as though her health had deteriorated since that fall.
During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which perhaps could have been caused by the fall that also caused the concussion. After the first upper cervical adjustment, she reported noticing her symptoms improve. Within a few months, all symptoms were absent and she was able to discontinue all medications.
Female, Age 12 years, Chronic Fatigue, Migraine Headaches, Dizzy Spells, Stomach Aches, Allergies, Frequent Colds and Infections
This 12-year-old female was brought in by her mother for an upper cervical evaluation. Her mother reported that her daughter had been chronically ill for the previous two years. Her illness started with pneumonia for which she was hospitalized two years prior. She reported that her daughter never regained her health – that she seemed to catch every infection and cold; that she was constantly tired; and even that she had stopped growing. Her mother also reported that her daughter would have ‘spells’ in which she got a headaches, dizziness, and stomach aches all at once and that the color would drain from her face. These spells had been increasing in frequency and her mother was very concerned about her daughter’s future and whether she would ever regain her health.
During the girl’s upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned, her mother recalled three different traumas that could have caused her daughter’s neck injury – a fall from the monkey bars in which she landed on her back and head; an auto accident; and another fall in which she took a hard blow to the head. After one week of treatment for her neck injury, the mother reported that her daughter’s health was improved – that the spells of headache, dizziness, and stomach ache had greatly decreased and that her daughter appeared to have more energy. One month later, all symptoms were greatly reduced. Six months later, all symptoms had been absent for several months and the girl had not succumbed to any colds or infections for the past three months. One year later, all symptoms continued to be absent; no infections had occurred; and the girl had resumed growing like any other normal teenager.
Male, Age 50 years, Dizziness, Ear Congestion, Sinus Headaches
This 50-year-old male was involved in an auto accident in 1986. One year later, he experienced a stiff neck, fatigue, dizziness, ear congestion, and ringing in his ears. The symptoms came and went for the first three months. Finally they became constant, and were aggravated during flying. He tried many types of decongestants but the problems persisted. Medical doctors had no answers for him.
During his chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was found that most likely stemmed from his auto accident. During the first two months of upper cervical care, the symptoms decreased dramatically. Several months later, he was symptom free, the first time in two years.
Female, Age 51 years, Dizziness, Labyrinthitis, Hearing Loss, Ear Congestion
This 51-year-old female suffered from her first dizzy spell in the early ’80’s while flying on a plane. She had a cold at the time and her ears didn’t adjust to the altitude. Her ears filled with fluid so she had them drained by puncturing her eardrum. Unfortunately, the clogged ears returned and she was plagued by dizzy spells and congestion and was forced to take Drixoral on a daily basis to keep the congestion down. She also suffered from hearing loss as a result of the congestion. Prior to the first dizzy spell, she was in an auto accident in which she sustained enough injury to her neck to require a month’s hospitalization. She suffered from chronic congestion and frequent dizzy spells for ten years before seeking help from upper cervical care.
During her chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, which probably resulted from her auto accident.
After beginning upper cervical care, no further dizzy spells occurred. Her ear congestion cleared so she discontinued daily medication. She also reported having better hearing and that her ears adjusted properly to the altitude during flying.
Female, Age 19 years, Headaches, Insomnia, Fatigue, Fainting Spells
At age 15, this 19-year-old female was struck by several large waves while on vacation with her family. After the waves hit her and knocked her face-down against the ocean floor, she ran out of the water with severe pain in her neck and back. While she appeared to recover, when she returned home at the end of the vacation, she began having fainting spells, where she would wake up in strange locations, not knowing what had happened. One fainting spell occurred while she was driving her car, causing her to run a red light and get hit by a bus traveling the opposite direction. After this incident, she was no longer allowed to drive. In addition to the fainting spells, she also began suffering from headaches, which escalated into a constant, daily occurrence, as well as frequent insomnia, which lead to extreme fatigue.
After consulting with several local doctors and undergoing numerous tests, including an MRI, her physicians could not find anything wrong with her and could only conclude that she had migraines and possibly psychological problems. Not accepting this, this patient and her parents searched the internet for additional help and decided to undergo an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.
During her evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which was likely caused by the trauma from the waves. Because this patient had traveled from a distance to undergo the evaluation, her family decided to have her stay in the area for 7 weeks to be treated. After her first upper cervical adjustment, the fainting stopped. By the second week of care, her headaches began to diminish. In addition, she began to sleep better and felt more energetic. At the end of seven weeks, all fainting, headaches, and insomnia were absent. She felt healthy, happy, and energetic.
Male, Age 33 years, Headaches, Vertigo, Blurred Vision, Neck Pain
This 33-year-old male was rear-ended in an auto accident 5 years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. After the accident, he felt his neck stiffen up and he suddenly required glasses to read due to blurred vision. Prior to the accident, no visual problems were reported. Three years later, he reinjured his neck when his neck suddenly spasmed to the point that he could not turn his head. He began suffering from a number of new symptoms including headaches, dizziness, worsening of his visual acuity and increased blurring, pain shooting down his right arm, loss of balance and coordination, “cracking” sounds in his neck, muscle twitches in his left leg, pressure at the base of his skull, and pain between his shoulder blades.
During his upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which most likely stemmed from his auto accident. After the first upper cervical adjustment, he reported a substantial improvement in all of his symptoms. Within one month, all of his symptoms were greatly improved. By two months, all symptoms were absent, including the blurred vision and the need for glasses. After his neck stabilized, he reported feeling the best he had felt in 2 years!
Female, Age 60 years, Vertigo, Tinnitus
This 60-year-old female suffered from her first episode of vertigo six weeks before seeking help from upper cervical care. During this episode that lasted about one day, she was very dizzy and she threw up. Her second attack occurred one week later and was much worse; she was unable to work and went to the emergency room. MRI was negative. Since those two severe episodes, she described feeling off-balanced and nauseated, especially when moving her head quickly. She also reported experiencing tinnitus (ear ringing) and pressure in her ears for the past 6 to 7 years, which got much worse once the vertigo started.
During her evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered. She did not recall experiencing any traumas that could have caused the injury but she did report feeling neck pain and stiffness during the past year. During the first month of care, she reported noticing the resolution of the daily dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, and ear congestion. In addition, she never experienced any further severe vertigo attacks.
Female, Age 41 years, Vertigo
This 41-year-old female suffered from severe vertigo for four months before seeking help from upper cervical care. She had been through many tests and had been diagnosed with central vertigo. She thought it might have had something to do with an old whiplash injury she had suffered from a car accident several years before. She had minor vertigo episodes following the car accident but never anything that had lasted this many months. The vertigo rendered her unable to work, drive, or do anything. Her symptoms included vertigo, neck pain, tinnitis, arms numbness, “foggy” headedness, and headaches. She described her symptoms as worsening when lying down or when looking up or down.
During her initial evaluation, a neck injury was discovered. After the initial upper cervical adjustment was administered, she reported on her next visit that the vertigo was greatly reduced in that she could lie down and look up and down without triggering any vertigo. A week later, she resumed working and driving. Her symptoms continued to resolve with continued treatment over several months until her neck injury had completely stabilized and all symptoms were absent.
Female, Age 29 years, Vertigo
This 29-year-old female suffered with vertigo for five years before seeking help from upper cervical care. She recalled that the first vertigo attack occurred two months following a bad fall snowboarding in which she hit her head and broke her wrist. She described her symptoms as fluctuating over the past five years, yet there were some events such as being sick or exercising hard that always triggered vertigo. In addition to feeling dizzy, she also felt ringing, stuffiness, and throbbing in her left ear during vertigo attacks.
During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that could have been caused by the snowboarding fall. She also recalled being involved in two auto accidents that preceded the first episode of vertigo, so the injury could have been caused by either of those as well. After the first upper cervical adjustment, she noticed the lessening of vertigo and ear symptoms. After three months of care, her neck injury stabilized and no further vertigo attacks occurred.
Male, Age 34 years, Severe Neck Pain, Headaches, Dizziness
This 34-year-old male was hit hard on the head by his garage door. One month later, he woke up with severe pain in his neck and base of his skull, headaches, and dizziness. He went to the emergency room and multiple tests were performed including MRI’s, Xrays, and a spinal tap. He was told that his tests were normal and he was prescribed heavy doses of pain killers including vicadin, which did not alleviate his pain. After seeing a neurosurgeon, who told him there was nothing that could be done, he saw another neurologist, who prescribed more pain medications and steroid anti-inflammatories. His pain was rated as a 5 or 6 on the 1-10 scale daily and the pain medications weren’t working. Finally, he took Imitrex, which lessened the pain somewhat, so he took one every morning and one every night. He eventually sought help from a naturopath who referred him for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.
At the time of his initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, he had suffered from daily neck pain, headaches, and dizziness for six straight weeks. During his evaluation, an injury in his upper neck was discovered, which had likely stemmed from the blow to the head by the garage door. Within a month of care, all of his pain, headaches, and dizziness were absent. Months later, his condition remained stable and no symptoms were reported.
Female, Age 42 years, Benign Positional Vertigo
This 42-year-old female suffered from vertigo for one year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. She underwent numerous tests and was told she had a fluid imbalance in her left ear. The vertigo occurred most frequently when she turned her head to the left, when she flexed her head forward, and when she extended her head. She had continuous trouble with vertigo and the only medical answers were to attempt some balance exercises during vertigo attacks. She claims these exercises rarely lessened the vertigo episodes.
During her upper cervical chiropractic evalution, an upper neck injury was discovered that was causing the vertigo. She recalled several accidents that could have caused the neck injury including an auto accident, a ski accident, and a fall. All accidents had occurred within 5 years prior to the vertigo onset. Within one month of upper cervical chiropractic care, all vertigo was absent.
Female, Age 29 years, Vertigo, Labyrinthitis
This 29-year-old female suffered from vertigo for two years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. Her initial attacks resulted in visits to the emergency room where the physicians gave her medications for seasickness. Eventually it was discovered that she had hearing loss in her left ear and she was diagnosed with labyrinthitis. She also complained of pain in her neck and back that had occurred for at least seven years.
During her upper cervical chiropractic evalution, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to past traumatic events that could have caused the neck injury, she recalled several falls during skiing, snowboarding, and rollerblading, as well as one incident where a hammer fell on her head. After the initial upper cervical adjustment, the vertigo and hearing loss lessened. Within a few weeks, all evidence of vertigo was absent.
Female, Age 26 years, Vertigo, Neck Pain, Headaches, Back Pain
This 26-year-old female was standing on a chair in her storage shed reaching for an item on the top shelf when she fell backwards off the chair and hit her head. She took most of the blow on the left side of her body and the left side of her head. She immediately began experiencing headaches. Three weeks later, she started experiencing vertigo, which began chronic. She also experienced pain in her neck and back. During her upper cervical chiropractic exam, an upper neck injury was discovered which probably stemmed from the blow to her head from the fall. After only a single upper cervical adjustment, all headaches, vertigo, neck pain, and back pain healed within two weeks and never returned.
Female, Age 38 years, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), Dizziness
This 38-year-old female started experienced TN pain for 3 years. It began with a “shock” sensation above her lip and eventually moved throughout the right side of her face and forehead. She was initially prescribed 200mg of Neurontin (nerve pain medication) and eventually increased up to 1800mg per day to try to reduce the pain. Even while taking 1800mg of Neurontin per day, she experienced excruciating pain on the right side of her face and forehead. She also experienced dizzy spells, ear ringing, and hearing loss on the right. Medical doctors had no answers other than to suggest surgery to possibly impact the involved nerves and blood vessels.
During this patient’s upper cervical exam, a neck injury was found. When questioned as to possible traumatic causes of the injury from her medical history, she recalled experiencing a blow to her head shortly before the onset of the TN pain and her other symptoms. This blow to her head most likely caused the upper cervical injury. After several months of upper cervical care to correct the upper neck injury, she was pain-free, and gradually reduced her pain medication. The dizziness, ear ringing, and hearing loss were also absent after upper cervical care.
Female, Age 49 years, Dizziness, Chronic Fatigue
This 49-year-old female suffered from dizziness and chronic fatigue syndrome for 5 years. Both symptoms occurred on a daily basis. She tried many forms of therapy including chelation with hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C but showed the same high Epstein Barr titers in follow-up tests.
During her chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to possible traumatic events in her past that could have caused the neck injury, she remembered falling head over heels down her basement stairs approximately five years prior (the same time her symptoms started). She also was involved in an accident two years prior in which her car air bag deployed accidentally. After her first upper cervical adjustment, all dizzy spells stopped. She also noticed experiencing more restful sleep and better energy throughout the day. One month later, she had no reoccurrence of symptoms.
Female, Age 23 years, Migraine Headaches, Dizzy Spells
Three years prior to upper cervical chiropractic care, this 23-year-old female fell down a flight of stairs. One month after the fall, she started suffering from migraines and began having them regularly for three years. She also suffered from neck pain that was most severe upon extension. In addition, she experienced frequent dizzy spells that lasted for several seconds and caused her to bump into walls. She tried many drugs such as Prozac and pain medications and therapies such as biofeedback but nothing helped.
During her initial chiropractic exam, an upper cervical injury was found, perhaps stemming from her fall down the stairs. After two months of upper cervical care, she was free of migraines, dizziness, and neck pain.
Female, Age 28 years, Dizziness, Neck Pain
This 28-year-old female suffered from dizzy spells for approximately one year, and they had been increasing in frequency. Her neurologist ordered an MRI and there were no significant findings. She also suffered from neck and shoulder pain. Her medical history included an auto accident in which she was thrown forward against the windshield. Her symptoms (dizziness, neck pain, shoulder pain) began approximately one year after the auto accident.
During this patient’s initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was found. After only being adjusted twice, she was free of dizziness and pain and remained symptom-free years later.
Male, Age 54 years, Dizziness
This 54-year-old male reported experiencing dizzy spells for approximately 8 years. The episodes started happening approximately 2-3 times a year increasing in frequency each year. The dizzy spells occurred multiple times per month, especially when turning his head to the right or when looking up. He became dizzy to the point where he feared falling over.
During his chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered. After 3 weeks of upper cervical care, the episodes of dizziness completely stopped and he could turn freely to the right and look up without discomfort.
Male, Age 62 years, Dizziness, Nausea
This 62-year-old male suffered from dizzy spells and nausea for approximately one year before seeking help from upper cervical care. The dizziness and nausea occurred most frequently when he tipped his head back or when turning his head from side to side. He also suffered from frequent headaches and sub-occipital neck pain. In addition, he noticed an increased incidence of fatigue in that he was unable to work as long as previously could.
During his initial chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to his medical history of any accidents that could have injured his neck, he recalled several falls and auto accidents in his past. After the first upper cervical adjustment, the dizzy spells, nausea, and headaches decreased in frequency and severity. One month later, all symptoms were absent and never returned.
Female, Age 28 years, Head Injury
While riding her bike, this 28-year-old female cyclist was hit by a motorcycle. She flew over her handlebars and landed on her head, causing a concussion. Her symptoms included dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, fatigue, nausea, spinal pain, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and loss of balance which all caused her to be out of work for the year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care.
During her intial evaluation, an upper cervical injury was found, most likely stemming from her head trauma. After several months of care, she returned to work due to increased ability to concentrate and increased energy and mental clarity. Her symptoms of dizziness and nausea were greatly reduced. Two years later, she occasionally has minor flare-ups but in general has the ability to exercise, work, balance family and friends, and lead a busy life.
Female, Age 50 years, Vertigo, Disembarkment Syndrome
This 50-year-old female suffered from chronic vertigo for 3 years. She had occasional episodes during the five years prior-one on a houseboat, another while riding an escalator. The ENT doctor performed many tests and located excessive fluid in her right ear and hearing loss. She also experienced frequent ear ringing and a fullness or plugged sensation in her ears.
After seeing many specialists, she was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease but her diagnosis was later changed to disembarkment syndrome since her vertigo symptoms felt like she had just disembarked from a boat. Vertigo occurred on a daily basis with some days worse than others. Medical specialists had no treatment to offer her other than recommending practicing walking in a straight line, balancing with her eyes closed, or walking backwards. They also prescribed diuretics to try to reduce the fluid in her ear; however each subsequent hearing test showed a worsening in hearing loss. Often, she attempted to go running during vertigo episodes to practice her balance but became extremely nauseated. This patient also suffered from frequent neck pain for ten years. Consequently, her doctors recommended injections into her neck hoping her vertigo would be helped. While some of the neck pain lessened, there was no effect upon the vertigo.
During this patient’s initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned about accidents in her medical history that could have caused the neck injury, she recalled 3 concussions from horse back riding in her past. One of the concussions, in which she was thrown head first into the ground off of her horse, caused convulsions and amnesia at the time. After her first upper cervical adjustment, the neck pain and vertigo episodes decreased in frequency and severity. She described herself as having “many good days in a row” without vertigo or neck pain episodes. Several months later, most of her symptoms were absent. Any episodes of vertigo or pain were mild and infrequent.
Male, Age 50 years, Dizziness, Ear Congestion, Sinus Headaches
This 50-year-old male was involved in an auto accident in 1986. One year later, he experienced a stiff neck, fatigue, dizziness, ear congestion, and ringing in his ears. The symptoms came and went for the first three months. Finally they became constant, and were aggravated during flying. He tried many types of decongestants but the problems persisted. Medical doctors had no answers for him.
During the first two months of upper cervical care, the symptoms decreased dramatically. Several months later, he was symptom free, the first time in two years.
Female, Age 52 years, Whiplash, Pain, Dizziness, Anxiety, Numbness
This 52-year-old female was involved in an auto accident six months prior to upper cervical care in which she was hit sideways at 45 miles per hour. For six months, she experienced numbness of her face, blurred vision, headaches, ear ringing, anxiety, dizziness, loss of sleep, and neck and mid back pain. She tried general chiropractic care and had some relief but the results were temporary. After suffering for six months, she tried upper cervical care.
After a careful analysis of her neck injury from the auto accident, she received her first adjustment. After the first adjustment, she reported that her anxiety was cut in half, she had no headaches, her ear popped open and the ringing stopped, she slept better, the pain was reduced, and dizziness stopped. One week later, all symptoms were corrected except for some slight numbness in her face. Two weeks later, the numbness healed as well. Months later, she remained symptom-free.
Male, Age 59 years, Meniere’s disease, Vertigo, Migraine Headache
This 59-year-old male had suffered for years with Meniere’s disease and migraine headaches. The Meniere’s disease started 6 years prior and included ringing, hearing loss, and pressure in his left ear. His vision was also involved and fluctuated between blurred and clear vision. While his symptoms were present constantly, he also suffered from Meniere’s attacks where he would be so dizzy that he was unable to walk. These attacks usually lasted several hours and he often vomited. He complained of long-standing neck pain in which he had reduced ranges of motion. The migraines had been occurring since childhood. He tried many treatments and medications but the symptoms persisted and even worsened. He was elated when a friend mentioned upper cervical care as a possibility for treatment.
During his upper cervical evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that was causing both his Meniere’s disease and his migraine headaches. He recalled a very severe auto accident that had occurred as a teenager in which he suffered a concussion and whiplash; this accident could have caused his neck injury, he surmised. He began upper cervical care to correct his neck and noticed improvement – less dizziness and clearer vision – in the first week. Within 2 months, all of the dizziness and headaches were substantially reduced. Within 6 months, all symptoms were absent and his hearing was restored.
Male, Age 40 years, Dizziness, Vertigo, Nausea, Swallowing Discomfort
This 40-year-old male complained of dizziness, vertigo, nausea, loss of balance, and swallowing discomfort for the previous 2 months. He described his symptoms as starting after he was working out at the gym. He thought of one incident – he placed the squat bar on his neck instead of his shoulders – that could have injured his neck and caused his symptoms. He was interested in undergoing an upper cervical evaluation to see whether a neck injury had occurred and whether his neck was the source of his symptoms.
During his evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered through thermography and radiography. He began treatment to correct his neck and noticed an immediate improvement in his symptoms. After undergoing treatment for one month, his neck was stabilized and all symptoms were absent.
Female, Age 29 years, Dizziness
This 29-year-old female fell on the ice and hit the back of her head two years prior. She didn’t think anything of it at the time, but then she experienced her first attack of severe dizziness one month later. She recalled that she sat up in bed and passed out; then she woke up and vomited. Then she began experiencing dizziness everyday. She started vestibular and vision therapy and had some occassional better days but the dizziness continued to worsen overall. She sought help from doctors who performed a variety of tests, including MRI, but they all told her that nothing was wrong with her. She began to suffer from anxiety about her chronic dizziness.
At the time of her upper cervical evaluation appointment, she reported that she had suffered with dizziness on a daily basis for the previous 2 years. During her evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that was most likely caused by the fall on the ice. After receiving treatment, she reported an immediate lessening in the severity of the dizziness. Within a couple of months of treatment, her neck was stabilized and all dizziness was absent.
Female, Age 54 years, Meniere’s Disease
This 54-year-old female was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease 2 years prior. She complained of stuffiness in her left ear, left-sided hearing loss, blurred vision, and constant dizziness. She also suffered from memory loss and loss of focus. She reported that once per week she would suffer from a more severe episode of dizziness that rendered her incapable of doing anything; she would need to lie down and rest and wait for it to pass. In order to drive, she took Benadryl. She had wondered whether her neck was involved because her range of motion was reduced. She reported that she had been involved in some ‘fenderbenders’ and wondered whether any of those accidents had injured her neck.
During her evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered through thermography and radiography. Due to the nature of her injury, it was surmised that one (or more) of her auto accidents had contributed to her neck injury. She began upper cervical care and noticed immediate improvement in her symptoms during the initial weeks of care. After undergoing care for several months and also working on strengthening her neck, her neck began to stabilize and the Meniere’s disease was markedly improved. Ultimately, after more healing time, her neck completely stabilized and the Meniere’s disease was absent.
Female, Age 47 years, Dizziness, Vertigo, Neck Pain
“In June 2005 I began my upper cervical care with Dr Erin Elster DC in Boulder, Co. We googled the phrase cevicogenic vertigo and found her very informative website. Six months prior to this in January of 2005 I had two very traumatic falls. First I slipped on black ice in a parking lot while I was in my ski boots carrying my skis and poles. I slipped so quickly that my feet flew straight up in the air and I landed extremely hard on my left shoulder, back and neck area. I lifted my head before it hit the ground and I felt my head compress into my shoulders. I gathered my things and went skiing, shocked that nothing was broken. The next day skiing, I skied in a trough and ejected from my skis, flipped over and landed on top of a mogul on the upper left thoracic area of my back. Double whammy!! And I still skied for the rest of the day. At this time in my life I was a 46 year old athletic female, part time ski instructor and full time jail deputy in the small Aspen, Co county jail. I hiked, biked, kayaked, skied and participated in all the mountains have to offer. Two weeks after my falls with only minor stiffness in my neck and shoulder I started to experience dizzy spells. As days went by I continued to have additional symptoms and more severe debilitating issues.
My symptoms were:
– Extreme dizziness– would even wake me out of a sound sleep
– Nausea – I was unable to eat hardly anything lost 25 pds in 3-4 mos
– Headaches- severe frontal and occipital
– Difficulty swallowing
– Numbness in left hand and left foot
– Spinal spasms
– Stiff neck and upper back with tingling and numbness
– Unable to drive or ride in a car without become extremely dizzy and nauseous
– Unable to shop at any type of store, blur of the lights, motions of people, were so overstimulating I had difficulty remembering anything; I usually ended up leaving the store without my groceries.
– The motion of bending my head to read or look at a computer screen also made me dizzy and nauseous.
– Had trouble sitting in chairs, was comfortable lying down completely flat or standing.
By the time February 2006 rolled around I was unable to work and could barely leave the house. Here is a list of medical people I saw: 2 general chiropractors, 1 General Practioner, 2 orthopedic spine doctors, 2 physical medical doctors, 3 neurologists (1 diagnosed cervigenic vertigo, 1 had no answers for me, 1 diagnosed post concussive head injury), 1 acupuncturist, 1 pain management doctor, multiple IMS treatments (type of acupuncture), Physical therapy (soft tissue work). I had also been given the following medications: 2 cervical spine steroid injections, Tizandine, Trazodone, Oxycodone, Ativan, Vicodin, and ambien. None of these treatment or doctors helped me.
By the time I visited Dr Elster in June 2006 I was still experiencing all of my symptoms. During her initial consultation, precision x-rays showed the misalignment of my C-1 (atlas) 4mm so Dr. Elster performed an adjustment it (it was a slight force but nothing painful and does not involve any twisting.) Her confidence and knowledge about my injury was reassuring and I finally felt someone understood and believed me and my symptoms. I broke down and cried and Dr. Elster assured me with time I would be better. At this point I needed to be checked a couple of times a week, so I stayed with friends in Boulder (the drive back and forth from Aspen to Boulder was detrimental to my healing. The motion of the car and turny mountain roads were counterproductive.) For the next 6 weeks, I started to slowly improve. In September I left Boulder and returned home. I was now able to check in with Dr Elster on a weekly basis and able to tolerate the ride as a passenger. My exercise level was increasing and my symptoms were subsiding. This appears to be the only medical treatment along with soft tissue work that improves my health. Dr Elster’s training and professionalism is outstanding. She is to be commended on her availability and patience. Many a time I called to cry on her shoulder and she was always there to reassure me. Dr. Elster frequently answers her own phone and promptly returns calls. Her website is very helpful. If not for these adjustments I am not sure where I would be right now, possibly still lying on my yoga mat staring at the tree tops. I am currently skiing and hiking and life is getting better, again! I believe upper cervical adjustments could help more people with head and neck injuries.”
~ Michelle S., Age 47, Aspen, CO
Female, Age 27 years, Meniere’s Disease, Neck Pain, Headaches
This 27-year-old female suffered from frequent vertigo attacks for over a year before seeking help from upper cervical care. Prior to her upper cervical evaluation, she sought help from many physicians who prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications; however, the medications didn’t help her and the vertigo attacks persisted. Besides dizziness, she also suffered from neck pain, ringing in her ears, blurred vision, and headaches when the vertigo attacks occurred and was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. The vertigo attacks prevent her from doing her job as a writer because the strain on her neck from working on a computer would provoke an attack.
During her evaluation, an injury stemming from her upper cervical spine was discovered. When questioned about her history of head / neck trauma, she recalled an incident in which she fell on the stairs and hit her head prior to the onset of the first vertigo attack. She underwent upper cervical care and within a few weeks all symptoms of vertigo, neck pain, and headaches were absent and she was able to get back to work full time.
Male, Age 22 years, Post-concussion Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Dizzy Spells
This 22-year-old male is a mountain bike racer and extreme skier. He experienced his first confirmed concussion at age 16 during a mountain bike race when he flew over the handlebars. He experienced some temporary memory loss but seemed to recover in a few hours. At age 21, he jumped off a cliff while skiing and hit his face into his knee upon landing. He reported that he saw stars and felt “weird” at the back of his neck right away. He was diagnosed with a concussion. His CT scan and MRI were reported as normal, but within a week he began experiencing daily panic attacks with vertigo. He saw numerous doctors including neurologists, general chiropractors, psychiatrists, and eye therapists, but his symptoms persisted. He became increasingly debilitated with the panic attacks and was unable to engage in any of his sports. Under recommendation from a friend, he sought help from upper cervical chiropractic care.
During his upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered. Undoubtedly, the injury was caused by the skiing incident or by a combination of his various sports traumas. After receiving treatment, he noticed an immediate decrease in the severity and frequency of the panic / dizziness attacks. Within a couple of months of treatment, the attacks were gone and he was able to resume biking and skiing.
Female, Age 60 years, Chronic Vertigo and Headaches
This 60-year-old female had been suffering with chronic vertigo and headaches for 20 years. The attacks varied in frequency and severity over the twenty years and despite being married to a physician and having access to many top physicians and their treatments and advice, she was unable to find any medical treatments that helped her so she simply had to wait out the attacks – days, weeks, or months until the symptoms subsided. Finally, after 20 years, she and her husband were searching the internet for other treatment possibilities and found Dr. Elster’s website discussing the relationship between cervical injuries, vertigo, and headaches. She recalled several different neck traumas earlier in her life prior to the onset of the vertigo attacks and wondered if there was a relationship so she decided to undergo an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.
During her evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered. When questioned about her history of cervical trauma, she recalled several different incidents including falls and blows to the head that could have caused the cervical injury. Many of these incidents of trauma occurred over 20 years prior. Because her neck injury had been present so many years, she was concerned that she might have trouble stabilizing; however, her case was resolved within 6 months and all attacks of vertigo and headaches were absent.
Female, Age 38 years, Chronic Vertigo, Neck Pain, Nasal Congestion, Ear Fullness
This 38-year-old female had been suffering from chronic vertigo and neck pain for close to 15 years. She had tried numerous medications, steroid injections, anti-depressants, chiropractors, acupunturists, physical therapists, massage therapists, ENT’s and neurologists. None of the medications or practitioners helped her and the problems persisted. In addition to stronger attacks of vertigo that rendered her unable to work or leave the house, she described general lightheadedness that was present all of the time, difficulty concentrating, stuffy nose, ear fullness, neck pain originating from the base of her skull, and pain radiating down her shoulder. Her most recent medications included daily pain medications and decongestants.
When searching the internet for answers, she came across Dr. Elster’s website describing upper cervical care and the correlation between neck injuries and vertigo. Prior to the onset of vertigo, she recalled sustaining an injury to her neck when she fell out of a moving truck and landed on her upper back, neck, and head. During her upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which had not been addressed by any of her previous practitioners. After a single upper cervical adjustment, she reported a substantial improvement in her vertigo and pain symptoms. After only a single month of treatment, all vertigo, pain, nasal and ear symptoms were absent.