If you’ve never experienced extreme dizziness or vertigo, it can be hard to understand just how debilitating it can be. Many patients with this issue tell me they would rather have back pain or headaches or some other problem instead, since it is so draining to feel disoriented in space. With vertigo, the most basic daily tasks often become difficult, especially activities such as driving or anything else that requires head movement.
Vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness where a person feels as though she (or the world around her) is in motion. Triggers include certain medications, inflammation of the inner ear nerves, viral infections or abnormal fluid pressure in the inner ear. The most common type of vertigo is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, which is thought to be caused by displaced particles in the inner ear canals. People with BPPV are often taught to perform a version of the “Epley Maneuver” to move these particles into a better position.
While medications and the Epley Maneuver can be extremely helpful, vertigo is often not resolved by just these treatments alone. I believe that many people continue to experience vertigo symptoms because an important cause is ignored. At our clinic, we help to improve or resolve vertigo for many patients by looking beyond the inner ear to another source—the nerve endings that create position sense in the body.
A patient I’ll refer to as Dorothy came to my office for treatment with low back and neck pain. She did not realize that we treat vertigo, but during the history and examination on her first visit, she revealed that she had been suffering for months with dizziness. She had been diagnosed with BPPV but could not tolerate the medication she was prescribed, and while the Epley Maneuver helped somewhat, she still had significant problems.
While we successfully treated her for the other complaints, we also used therapies focused on removing restriction of the connective tissue in her upper neck, jaw muscles, and muscles at the base of the skull. This fibrous connective tissue is called fascia, and in Dorothy’s case it responded to treatment. She reported a 60% improvement in her vertigo after one session, and within a few more visits, said her vertigo symptoms were completely gone.
The reason that fascia release treatments were able to relieve Dorothy’s vertigo is due to the most important sense in our bodies—proprioception. This is a medical term for position sense, which is how we know where all the parts of the body are in space.
The millions of nerve endings that create position sense are found all through our bodies, embedded in the fascia. They transmit the information which makes all coordinated movement possible, along with upright posture and muscular balance. In the case of vertigo, restriction in the fascia of the jaw, upper neck or skull can cause a distortion in position sense that could trigger the disorienting sensations of spinning motion and loss of balance.
At our office, we release restrictions in fascia using a combination of therapies that involve gentle tissue compression, stretching, and pulsed microcurrent or low-level laser. Restoring normal flexibility and movement to fascia helps to restore normal position sense. Most of our vertigo patients experience significant relief from these fascia treatments, even when typical treatment methods have failed.
When vertigo symptoms are extreme or lasting, it’s important to be evaluated first by a physician who specializes in this area. If vertigo or dizziness occurs with other symptoms such as blurred vision, rapid heartrate or mental confusion, urgent medical evaluation is necessary. However, most cases of vertigo don’t have serious underlying conditions, and there is a common cause that is often overlooked. Exploring fascia release therapy with a practitioner experienced in treatment of vertigo could be the best option for lasting relief.
Our evening programs have moved online. You are invited to attend a Zoom webinar all about the topic of vertigo on August 2, 6:30 p.m. You will learn in-depth how we evaluate and treat vertigo in our clinic. You will also find out more about fascia, why it is important and how fascia problems are involved with vertigo. Dr. Eric Winder will discuss case examples and hold a Q&A session following the presentation. Visit GentleBay.com to register for the webinar. Dr. Eric Winder has 24 years in practice with a focus on pain relief and restoration of alignment and motion through fascia release therapies, without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit https://gentlebay.com/