When you have frequent dizziness and start thinking about where the root cause might be, rarely does the neck come to mind. But for people who’ve experienced whiplash, concussions, or head trauma, the neck might be exactly the cause of their dizziness. Can a pinched nerve in the neck cause dizziness? The short answer is yes. And it’s referred to as Cervical Vertigo or Cervicogenic Dizziness.
Cervical Vertigo affects our balance system and causes frequent, sometimes constant, dizzy spells. However, it is more nuanced than simply having dizziness and neck pain.
Cervical Vertigo shares symptoms with many vestibular disorders, which is why we caution you from looking at this list to determine if you have it. Rather, use this list of symptoms as a point of reference to discuss with your doctor:
- Dizziness, general imbalance, or disorientation worsened by head movements or after maintaining a neck position for extended periods of time
- Dizziness or lightheadedness during or after experiencing neck pain, stiffness, and/or decreased range of motion in the neck
- Occipital headache (back of the head)
- Dizziness decreases as the neck pain decreases
- Above symptoms lasting minutes to hours
Do I Have Cervical Vertigo?
Unfortunately, the diagnosis for cervical vertigo does not have a well-defined consensus. However, there are a few steps you can take.
First, start with your primary care physician to safely evaluate you medically. Additionally, they might order imaging (MRI, CT scan, or X-rays) to assist in the diagnostic process.
If necessary, you might also see a neurologist to rule out concerns with your brain (for example, migraine).
Next, you will see an otolaryngologist and audiologist to rule out any alternatives that could involve the ear (for example BPPV). Routine vestibular laboratory studies used while working up cervical vertigo include VNG, audiogram, VEMP, OAE, Rotational Chair, and Posturography.
Sources of Cervical Vertigo include:
- Cervical trauma
- Cervical spondylosis
- Whiplash & concussion
- Cervical arthritis
- Old age
Likewise (to the diagnosis), the treatment process for Cervical Vertigo is complicated. Unlike BPPV, it’s not likely to be cured after one treatment session.
Rather, ongoing treatment encompasses a combination of manual therapy, vestibular rehabilitation therapy, and medical management.
Therefore, let us guide you through the process. We offer in-person or virtual appointments.