Recently there have been a number of cases of patients presenting with complaints of vertigo, dizziness and a lack of balance. These symptoms are commonly seen in patients with chronic neck pain after whiplash trauma. Let’s take a quick look at why this can come about.
Your vestibular system, located in your inner ear, is your body’s compass and determines this important information through a complex system of fluid filled loops. These loops detect how fast or slow you’re moving in the vertical and horizontal planes, as well as angular movements with the fluid stimulating small hair cells, giving your brain its orientation. All this information is transmitted in a split second, and is matched up with the feedback from your eyes and the positioning of your joints to culminate in fluid and succinct movement all coordinated through your nervous system.
But what happens when this elaborate system breaks down?
The results can be very dramatic and have a large effect on quality of life and ability to function. General vertigo or dizziness symptoms can arise from a number of possible causes from more serious centralized conditions of the brain and spinal cord, to peripheral causes such as infections or trauma to the components of the balance system, blood pressure changes or the disposition of calcium crystals in your inner ear.
Our first job is to understand the nature of your presentation and condition and ascertain if it is something, which requires referral to another health professional for assessment. The most commonly presenting cause behind patients is due to Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo otherwise known as BPPV. BPPV is a condition whereby the small calcium carbonate crystals in your inner ear are dislodged and float freely in the fluid inappropriately activating the hair cells inside, causing you to feel dizzy when you move in a certain direction, commonly lying down, getting up or rolling over.
At Pain Free Orlando, our team is trained in the assessment and management of BPPV which utilize medical tests to identify the canal affected and assist in the reposition of the crystal into a ‘pocket’ at the back of the canal, where they are less likely to aggravate you as you move. In conjunction to this we will often recommend the use of a soft collar and suggest the patient remains relatively still and upright to allow maximum effectiveness of the repositioning.
Further to this we highly recommend avoiding caffeine and salt for at least a week, and minimize your intake of these chemicals thereafter, as the formation of otoconia (crystals) in the inner ear canals has been shown to be reduced under these conditions, thus lessening the likelihood of future attacks.
The good news is that BPPV tends to respond well to this conservative approach, and patients will often notice an almost instantaneous relief from their symptoms.