Vertigo Cervical Headache
What is Vertigo Cervical Headache?
Vertigo Cervical Headache is also known as Vertigo Migraine or Vestibular Migraine. This can result in dizziness, unsteadiness or vertigo like symptoms. Headache or migraine pain in the head can also be present or at times be completely absent during an attack.
Sufferers may experience nausea and vomiting, as well as mild to moderate pain in the head either on one or both sides. Symptoms are often exacerbated by sudden movements of the head, turning the head to a particular side or when maintaining the head in one position for a prolonged time. It can also be triggered by physical exertion, exposure to bright lights, and visual disturbances such as walking and looking down the aisle of a grocery store. It is also worsened when discomfort is felt in the neck. In some cases a vertigo cervical headache attack can occur for no apparent reason.
Vertigo headaches or vestibular migraines can often be confused with other conditions, including:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Meniere’s disease
It is important that sufferers, who experience any form of dizziness, imbalance or vertigo issues, have a thorough assessment to properly diagnose their condition. This will ensure that you receive appropriate vertigo treatment and vestibular rehabilitation.
What is BPPV?
BPPV is a disorder of a problem in the inner ear, involving a small calcified otolith (calcium crystals) moving loosely in the inner ear. If these otoliths are dislodged and move freely in the inner ear, it will subsequently result in vertigo and vestibular symptoms. A person suffering from vestibular migraines can often experience symptoms similar to a person suffering from BPPV. This often causes many health practitioners to mis-diagnose and label a patient having BPPV, when they in fact suffer from Vestibular migraine.
What is Labyrinthitis?
An inner ear infection is called labyrinthitis. The labyrinth is a structure in the inner ear that can be considered a “balancing centre”. When inflammation to the labyrinth occurs, usually due to infections, you may have issues with balance.
The most common cause of labyrinthitis is from viral infections. This can be from the cold/flu virus or the herpes virus group (i.e. the virus that causes chickenpox, shingles or cold sores). Sometimes, ear infections can lead to labyrinthitis.
Labyrinthitis may be diagnosed by a series of tests, including:
- Hearing tests
- Balance tests
- Eye tests
- Head movements
- Blood pressure
- Sometimes other tests such as scans may be performed
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Dizziness / Vertigo
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
- Hearing loss
- Feeling of fullness / congestion in the ear
Meniere’s disease is also a condition of the inner ear, whereby there is a build-up of fluid in the labyrinth (balancing centre). The fluid build-up sends signals to the brain, which interferes with normal signals. Hence you may feel the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
Meniere’s Disease can occur to people of all ages, however it generally affects people ranging from 40 to 60 years old.3
There are 4 main symptoms that a Vestibular Migraine sufferer may experience:
- Vertigo: Is an external sensation whereby you feel the environment is spinning, or the world is spinning around you. Nystagmus often occurs whereby muscles around the eyes contract, resulting in involuntary eye movements.
- Dizziness: Is an internal sensation in the head such as light headedness, heavy headedness, unsteady in the head, fogginess or wooziness.
- Imbalance: Is a physical sensation whereby sufferers will feel unsteady on the feet, overbalancing or veering off to the side when walking.
- Headache orMigraine: Pain in the head such as headache or migraine can occur during an attack. In many cases headache or migraine can be completely absent, whereby sufferers may feel aura like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.
What is the cause of Vertigo Cervical Headache?
Through current research, Vertigo Migraine is a result of a dysfunction in the neck. It can also be associated after injuries to the neck such as a whiplash or head injury1,2. It may also occur for no apparent reason or cause. Those with this disorder typically have a dysfunction in the upper three cervical spine which causes a SENSITISED BRAINSTEM.
The brainstem is found at the base of the skull, and into the upper three vertebrae. It filters information that passes into the brain including motion-self-awareness and head-equilibrium-position. A cranial nerve called the vestibulocochlear nerve which innervates the inner ear can also be affected resulting in dizziness, vertigo or unbalanced symptoms. Because these information pass through what is now a sensitised and heightened brainstem, those with this dysfunction will now have a higher risk in suffering from dizziness, vertigo and unbalanced like symptoms. They may also have associated features such as headaches and migraines in Brisbane.
I’ve already tried everything. What else can be done to help Vertigo Cervical Headaches?
Modern medicine moves very rapidly, and unfortunately this means that no one can keep up with all of the research. Many practitioners rely on the outdated medical model of the various forms of headaches to provide treatments to their patients. Here at the Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic™, we specialise in treating headaches and migraines. Therefore, we pride ourselves in keeping up to date with the most recent research, and applying the most effective treatments for your needs.
The Treatment Option
At the Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic™, we see countless amounts of patients with Vertigo Cervical headaches and utilise world-class techniques in assessing and treating this problem. We are also affiliated with Vestibular Specialists who can assist those with severe vertigo issues. A thorough examination of the upper cervical spine is firstly initiated to determine the severity of your SENSITISED BRAINSTEM. If your brainstem has been proven to be hypersensitive and the cause of your Vertigo Cervical Headaches, we then conduct specific treatment to safely and effectively de-sensitive your brainstem. Expect a significant improvement to occur rapidly in 90% of our patients once treatment commences.
We expect to observe this within the first 5 treatment consultation. The best part about the treatment is that it is medication free, surgical-free, non-invasive, and treats the underlying cause of your problem.
Our treatment is effective in alleviating or dramatically reducing Cervical Vertigo Headaches in 85-90% of sufferers.
Imagine living a life free from headaches and migraines and saying goodbye to medications!
To gain your recovery today contact us on 1800 HEADACHE (toll free) 1800 43 23 22
- Wrisley DM, Sparto PJ, Whitney SL, Furman JM. Cervicogenic dizziness: a review of diagnosis and treatment. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2000; 30:755–766.
- Barnsley L, Lord S, Bogduk N. Whiplash injury. Pain 1994;58:283–307.
- Ménière disease. (2019). Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/meniere-disease