Dizziness is one of the most common reasons Americans see a Doctor, but did you know there are different kinds of dizziness? Vertigo is an acute, powerful sensation that you or the world is spinning. Typically this is so strong that you will not be able to walk, may experience nausea or vomit, and may have rapid eye movements called nystagmus. Typically this does not last for more than minutes. Dizziness is a low grade feeling that your body and/or head is swaying, rocking, or bobbing. This may be present all the time or it may come and go. You are able to function but with difficulty, and may not feel comfortable doing certain things that require precision or balance. It is possible to have dizziness and vertigo, but they do not usually occur at the same time. And finally we have light-headedness. This is a sensation that usually occurs when standing up quickly from sitting or laying down associated with an unbalanced and unstable sensation, or a sensation that you may pass out. This does not last long but may trigger other symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
These problems represent significant quality of life issues. It takes an amazing amount of effort to live and work through dizziness, and all that energy and stress spent coping is less energy you have for all the other things in life. This is why there is an extremely high rate of psychological disorder associated with dizziness. ⅓ of all dizziness patients develop anxiety and/or depression. So what causes this? As always it could be any one of a multitude of things. If you’re suffering from acute dizziness and have never experienced dizziness before, it is best to immediately see your doctor or go to the ER. Other causes of dizziness may be from head trauma, neck injury, inner ear disorders, infections, or neurological disorders. There are 3 systems that can contribute to your sense of where you are in space, and when an imbalance develops this can cause the sensations of dizziness and vertigo. This includes your visual system (eyes), vestibular system (inner ear, senses rotation and gravity), and your proprioceptive system (muscles and joints, especially the neck and feet). Your body plays an intricate game of telephone with itself, constantly comparing what each system is saying to figure out ‘where you are in space’. Dysfunction in these systems may be giving your brain false or contradictory signals, kind of like that annoying kid in telephone who always says whatever he wants. Then your brain has to choose who to listen to, and may get it wrong. This leads to the dizziness.
So how can we help? The first step is a detailed history and examination of all these systems. Based on your signs and symptoms your provider will either be able to refer you properly to the right place for management, or identify which kid or kids in the telephone game are slacking. Once this is identified, rehabilitation can start. This usually begins with exercises for your eyes, inner ear, or body to help re-balance the inputs. Chiropractic adjustments can be very powerful tools in the scenario for changing input from the neck, one of the most important structures for balance. If you are interested in getting your dizziness evaluated and treated call (703)-723-9355 to schedule an appointment with one of our Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, or Acupuncturists to start your journey towards living dizziness free.