Cervicogenic Dizziness

Cervicogenic dizziness is a condition characterized by dizziness or imbalance that originates from issues in the neck (cervical spine), leading to symptoms such as vertigo, unsteadiness, and neck pain.

Cervicogenic Dizziness
Cervicogenic Dizziness
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Your Guide to Understanding Cervicogenic Dizziness

What is Cervicogenic Dizziness?

Cervicogenic dizziness is a condition where dizziness or imbalance is believed to originate from issues in the neck, specifically the cervical spine. The cervical spine refers to the seven vertebrae that make up the neck region of the spine. When there are problems or dysfunction in the nerves, joints, or muscles of the neck, it can result in symptoms of dizziness.

The precise cause of cervicogenic dizziness is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to disturbances in the proprioceptive system. Proprioception refers to the body's ability to sense its position in space and the movement of its various parts. The neck plays a crucial role in this system as it contains many sensory receptors that provide feedback about head position and movement.

How can Physiotherapy help treat Cervicogenic Dizziness?

Physiotherapy services are beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of cervicogenic dizziness. Physiotherapists use a multi-faceted approach to address the underlying causes of this condition. Manual therapy techniques, such as cervical joint mobilizations and soft tissue manipulation, can help improve neck mobility and reduce muscle tension that contributes to dizziness.

Specific exercises targeting the neck and vestibular system are prescribed to improve stability, balance, and coordination. Additionally, physiotherapists provide education on posture correction, ergonomics, and lifestyle modifications to prevent or minimize dizziness episodes. By addressing the musculoskeletal and vestibular components, physiotherapy helps individuals with cervicogenic dizziness regain control and improve their overall quality of life.

What causes Cervicogenic Dizziness?

Cervicogenic dizziness is typically caused by issues in the neck, specifically the cervical spine. Several factors can contribute to this condition. One common cause is degeneration of the cervical spine, which refers to the natural wear and tear that occurs over time. Inflammation in the neck, joint issues, and lesions in the spinal discs can also lead to cervicogenic dizziness.

Abnormally high muscle tone in the neck can be another factor. When the muscles in the neck become overly tense or tight, it can disrupt the balance and coordination signals sent to the brain, resulting in dizziness. Trauma, such as whiplash injury or cervical trauma, can also cause cervicogenic dizziness.

What treatments might help Cervicogenic Dizziness?

The treatment for cervicogenic dizziness aims to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being. Here are some approaches that healthcare professionals may recommend:

  • Manual therapy: This involves hands-on techniques performed by chiropractors, physiotherapists, or other qualified practitioners. Manual therapy can help improve neck mobility, reduce muscle tension, and address musculoskeletal imbalances related to cervicogenic dizziness.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy focuses on exercises and stretches to enhance strength, flexibility, and posture. Therapists may develop a personalized program targeting the neck and surrounding areas to improve stability and function.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation: Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of therapy that aims to improve balance and reduce dizziness. It may include exercises and techniques to retrain the brain's response to vestibular signals.
  • Medication: In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medications such as muscle relaxants, pain relievers, or anti-inflammatory drugs to manage symptoms associated with cervicogenic dizziness. These medications are typically used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Postural correction: Addressing postural issues and making adjustments in daily activities can be beneficial. Healthcare professionals may provide guidance on maintaining proper posture and body mechanics to reduce strain on the neck.
  • Other interventions: Additional treatments such as acupuncture, dry needling, fascial mobilization, or motor control exercises may be recommended in specific cases.

Signs of Cervicogenic Dizziness:

The signs of cervicogenic dizziness can vary from person to person, but there are common symptoms associated with this condition. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Dizziness: Individuals may experience a sense of lightheadedness, feeling faint, giddiness, or unsteadiness.
  • Neck pain: Cervicogenic dizziness often presents with neck pain, which may be localized or spread to the shoulders and upper back.
  • Vision issues: Blurred vision or difficulty focusing on objects may occur in conjunction with dizziness.
  • Lack of coordination: People with cervicogenic dizziness may have problems with balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.
  • Headaches: Headaches, particularly those originating from the base of the skull or the back of the head, can be a symptom of cervicogenic dizziness.
  • Nausea: Some individuals may experience feelings of nausea or queasiness along with dizziness.
  • Ear-related symptoms: Cervicogenic dizziness can be accompanied by symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear fullness, or hearing changes.

Symptoms of Cervicogenic Dizziness:

Cervicogenic dizziness, also known as cervical vertigo, is characterized by specific symptoms. While the presentation may vary among individuals, common symptoms of cervicogenic dizziness include:

  • Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded, heavy-headed, faint, giddy, or unsteady.
  • Neck pain: Experience of neck pain, which can be localized or extend to the shoulders and upper back.
  • Vision issues: Blurred vision, difficulty focusing on objects, or visual disturbances.
  • Nausea: Feeling queasy or experiencing nausea, often associated with head movements.
  • Lack of coordination: Problems with balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.
  • Motion sensitivity: Sensitivity to movement, especially head and neck movements.
  • Headaches: Headaches originating from the base of the skull or the back of the head.
  • Ear-related symptoms: Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear fullness, or changes in hearing.
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When is the right time to see a Physiotherapist for Cervicogenic Dizziness?

If you are experiencing symptoms of cervicogenic dizziness or related neck and jaw discomfort, it may be the right time to see physiotherapist. It is advisable to seek professional evaluation if you are consistently feeling dizzy, unbalanced, or have difficulty with head movements.

You should consider consulting with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist for an extended period, worsen over time, or significantly impact your daily activities and quality of life. Additionally, if you have recently experienced trauma, such as a whiplash injury or cervical trauma, it is important to seek prompt evaluation from a healthcare provider.

Meet our Lead Registered Physiotherapist

Brittany Pereira

Brittany Pereira

Registered Physiotherapist

Registered Physiotherapist with a degree from the University of Toronto

Brittany enjoys working with patients across age groups and backgrounds to help them move better, get stronger, understand their bodies and ultimately, feel more confident. She combines her knowledge and clinical experience to best serve her patients.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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