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I am Piumi Herath, a Senior Headache Clinician at Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, based in our Spring Hill clinic. In this blog, we will explore a common yet often misunderstood query: What is the difference between vestibular migraines and vertigo? Despite their frequent interchangeability, these terms come with their own unique set of characteristics and causes.

Vertigo and Its Origins:

It is important to note that the term ‘Vertigo’ is not a condition but a symptom you can experience where you or the world around you appears to spin. Vertigo can be associated with several inner ear disorders, such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease and Vestibular neuritis. These conditions affect the delicate balance-related structures within the ear, leading to episodes of vertigo. Vertigo is also a common symptom associated with Vestibular Migraines.

Vestibular Migraines- A Unique Culprit:

Vestibular migraines are characterised by dizziness or vertigo as well as an array of additional symptoms like headaches, sensitivity to light/smell/sound, brain fog, fatigue, and nausea and/or vomiting. What sets vestibular migraines apart is their origin, in the cervical spine (neck).

The root cause behind vestibular migraines is often located in the upper cervical spine- the first three vertebrae of the neck. Changes in or around these three vertebrae, due to poor posture or head injuries, may cause the brainstem to become hypersensitive or ‘sensitised’. It is theorised that these changes can then increase sensitivity of the vestibular nerve, which originates in the brainstem. The vestibular nerve is responsible for controlling one’s sense of balance and spatial awareness, such that changes will lead to vertigo and dizziness.

How we can help:

At our clinic, our headache clinicians are equipped with significant skills and training to delve into the intricacies of the upper three cervical vertebrae, aiming to uncover the root cause of vestibular migraines. By exploring the connections between the neck and the brainstem, our clinicians can pinpoint potential triggers and tailor treatment strategies accordingly. In the meantime, to start looking after your neck, monitor and adjust your posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping to ensure you are not slouched or have a forward head posture.


Understanding the disparity between vestibular migraines and other causes of vertigo is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. If you find yourself grappling with vertigo or migraine symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out- we are here to navigate this maze with you. You can book online, call us on 1800 43 23 22 or email us at [email protected] to book in with a clinician today!


Written by:

Piumi Herath

Senior Headache Clinician

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