What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a type of dizziness characterised by a ‘spinning’ sensation in the head. Symptoms are usually aggravated by sudden changes in position.
The symptoms of vertigo include dizziness directly following movement of the head that persists for a period of minutes to hours, a feeling of being light-headed, balance issues, abnormal eye movements and nausea.
The most common cause of vertigo is known as benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV). BPPV describes the process of the small crystals (calcium carbonate) in the balance centre of the inner ear being dislodged and then disrupted by abrupt, sudden movements. These movements can vary but often include looking up, rolling to one side in bed or lying on one ear, getting out of bed and bending over.
There are several other reasons an episode of vertigo may occur. These include trauma to the head, migraines, infection, strokes, tumours, circulation issues and inner ear disorders or inner ear degeneration. In some cases there may be no cause found.
Diagnosis is based on a variety of factors. An individual’s medical history will be taken into consideration along with a physical examination. The nature of the symptoms and their frequency and duration will be examined on an individual basis.
There are a range of balance tests that can be undertaken to determine if an individual is experiencing vertigo. A common test used to detect BPPV is the Dix-Hallpike manoeuvre. This test is administered by a health professional who tilts the patient’s head 45 degrees to one side. They then promptly lie on their back, holding their head off the side of the table to maintain the 45 degree angle for at least 30 seconds. During this period the health professional will examine the eyes for any abnormal movements. Any symptoms of dizziness should be reported.
Other tests that may be administered include the Head-Shaking Nystagmus Test, the Head Impulse Test or the Vibration-Induced Nystagmus Test, depending on the clinical judgement of the health professional.
The majority of people who seek a chiropractor are coming because they have either back pain, neck pain or headaches. This is because mechanical issues can cause, contribute to or be a consequence headaches and migraines. As will all initial assessments our chiropractor will conduct a physical, neurological and orthopaedic testing to determine what is the root cause of the headache. In most cases there is an association between the mechanical stress and the symptoms you are experience. If this is the case and chiropractic care is appropriate for you then a plan of action will be developed. There will be ample opportunity for you to discuss the proposed care and ask any questions before proceeding. To ensure that you have a complete understanding of how to get the most benefit out of our care, your plan of action will include attending a 30min introduction to chiropractic self care workshop.
Dizziness versus vertigo. What’s the difference?
People often speak of dizziness and vertigo interchangeably.
Vertigo is a sense of spinning or moving even though you are not actually moving. Although this has many causes it is frequently disorientating and distressing and should be investigated further. Often the symptoms are accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Department of Health Victoria. (2010). Vertigo (BPPV) Emergency Department Factsheets. Retrieved from: www.health.vic.gov.au/edfactsheets
Dros, J., Maarsingh, O. R., van der Horst, H. E., Bindels, P. J., Ter Riet, G., & van Weert, H. C. (2010). Tests used to evaluate dizziness in primary care. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 182(13), E621-31.