Vertigo Dr Bret Wilson



Vertigo is a form of dizziness, an abnormal sensation of movement or spinning.  The symptom indicates a dysfunction of the brain and inner ear.  Vertigo can cause nausea or vomiting, cold sweats, visual disturbance and loss of balance.  Common causes are inner ear infections, Meniere’s disease, head and neck injury, reduced blood flow to the brain, abnormal blood sugar, side effect of medication and migraine headache.  Vertigo may go away on its own, may require conservative treatment, or more extensive procedures if related to a more serious condition.  The identification of the cause, determines the treatment necessary to recover.  A physician evaluation is needed for any episode of un-explained vertigo or dizziness.

A specific kind of vertigo is referred to as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and is associated with onset of vertigo with certain movements or positions. It is common to be set off turning over in bed.   It is a benign condition and the most common form of vertigo.  The vertigo occurs in brief episodes lasting seconds to minutes. The incidence of BPPV increases with age and is more common in women than men.  The cause of BPPV is considered to be the formation of a crystal known as a canalith in the semi- circular canals of the inner ear, part of the vestibular mechanism that tells the body the position and movement that is occurring.  The crystals disrupt the normal function by random movements that are interpreted by the brain as dizziness.  An episode can occur suddenly and without warning, may result in nausea, vomiting and abnormal eye movements. Falls are a concern, creating other injuries.

Vertigo and other forms of dizziness are a common reason for patients to seek the care of the doctor.  It is important to be examined with the onset of this symptom to find the cause.  The doctor will perform a history and proper physical examination to narrow down the possible causes.  Additional testing such as blood work, CT scan, blood work and Doppler ultrasound may be necessary to rule out stroke, brain injury, or tumor.  A proper diagnosis makes sure the best treatment is provided.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo responds well to conservative care and treatment.  The treatment is first directed at reducing the symptoms by repositioning the canalith in the inner ear, so that it will stop triggering the vertigo.  The standard canalith repositioning treatment is known as Epley’s maneuver.   The exercise is performed initially with a doctor or therapist, consists of a series of movements to help reposition the crystal back to a place that will no longer cause the trouble.  I often tell patients it is like to old pocket game with the BB.  The object is to tilt the game to get the BB to rest in the hole.  Following the successful performance of the procedure, the patient can then use the movements as a home exercise until symptoms subside.  Often a single treatment will make a big difference.

A sudden onset of vertigo or other forms of dizziness should be evaluated by a physician. Most vertigo conditions are benign and self-limited.  It is important to rule out conditions that may cause long term disability such as stroke or tumor.  Chiropractors are able to evaluate patients with vertigo, arrive at a diagnosis and either treat or make the proper referral.

Yours in Health,


Dr Bret Wilson wants you to move, play and live free from neck and back pain.  For more information about chiropractic, posture, exercise, and how to make better choices about your health visit our website  Find a chiropractor in your area to help you with safe and effective health care.