Neck pain when accompanied by dizzy spells could be indicative of conditions such as vertigo, neck arthritis or cervical spondylosis. The following write-up will provide information on the contributory factors of neck pain and dizziness.
The term ‘dizziness’ is used to describe different sensations that are felt before a person feels that he/she is going to faint. The affected individual may feel lightheaded or may feel that everything around him/her is spinning. Loss of balance or the spinning sensation occur when your brain starts receiving conflicting messages from your inner ears. At times, dizzy spells may accompany neck pain. Neck pain may occur due to inflammation of the neck tissues, degenerative disc disease, neck strain or sprain, neck injury, a herniated disc, a pinched nerve, etc. Numbness, tingling, tenderness or dizziness are symptoms that may accompany neck pain. Here are some actual reasons that cause neck pain and dizzy spells in a person.
What Causes Neck Pain and Dizziness?
- Cervical Vertigo: Cervical vertigo is one of the major causes for neck pain and dizziness, which usually gets provoked by a particular neck posture, irrespective of the orientation of the head with respect to the gravity, like turning of the head about the vertical axis while sitting upright. The pain is often caused by unnoticed minor injuries, a swollen gland or contraction of the vertebral arteries in the neck that route to the brain called neck proprioceptors. The neck, in such cases, is often positioned in a way that does not align with the eyes and ears in an organised manner, again, affecting blood supply and causing dizziness.
- Neck Arthritis: Arteries, as we know, carry blood to the posterior part of the brain, transporting the blood in the vertebrae of the cervical spine. If a patient has severe neck arthritis along with osteophyte formation (bone appendages due to arthritis), these osteophytes can encroach on the space occupied by the blood vessels. This affects the blood supply to the posterior part of the brain and may result in severe neck pain along with dizziness, accompanied with a feeling of vertigo.
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: It is a specific inner ear disorder that may occur due to small crystals floating in the fluid in the inner ear falling onto one of our balance sections. The patient may experience mild neck pain and short spells of dizziness that may begin suddenly and last for few seconds, especially when the patient is looking up at the sky or lying down in the bed. The disorder may also be caused due to a sudden blow to the head or from an age-related condition. However, this condition is harmless and may clear up without treatment in a few weeks. Consult a specialist/physiotherapist to ease the discomfort.
- Neck or Whiplash Injuries: Neck or whiplash injuries or neck manipulations resulting from an accident or even during physiotherapy performed by some health professional can cause dizziness especially if you have an inner ear problem. However, this is not severe, but may continue for a long time.
- Cervical Spondylosis: Lifting heavy objects on the shoulders for prolonged periods, dragging heavy objects, sitting in front of the computer for long hours, or sitting in an unhealthy fashion can cause tension in the neck muscles. Abnormal wear and tear of the discs and vertebrae in the neck region can give rise to cervical spondylosis. Pain in the neck, stiffness and numbness are some of the common symptoms. Though not very common , loss of balance may also be seen in affected individuals.
- Vestibular nucleus is the part in a human’s brain which induces dizziness in a person. Stress on the spine and the nape pressures this area disturbing the blood circulation which causes distress and eventually dizziness.
- Ear problems like tinnitus which is a ringing sensation in the ears is also a major factor. In these cases, an MRI scan should be done immediately to verify the complication.
- Wearing a neck strap to restrict motion and intake of OTC non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, disprin and ibuprofen could contribute to pain in the neck coupled with dizziness.
Dangers of Drugs for Neck Pain and Dizziness Treatment
Millions of Australians depend on anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain, but the drugs are among the most dangerous on the market. Aside from significantly increasing your heart risks (such as a two to fourfold increase in the risk of heart attacks, stroke or cardiovascular death), NSAIDs are linked to serious gastrointestinal risks like bleeding of the digestive tract, increased blood pressure and kidney problems. Remember, this applies not only to prescription medications like Celebrex but also to over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, Advil and Motrin.
It’s very difficult to find a drug-based method of pain relief that is not saddled with severe side effects. The FDA has even recently limited the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription products and added a boxed warning due to liver toxicity concerns. Acetaminophen is actually the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
As for the opioid painkillers like OxyContin, they are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs and are a leading contributor to the rising rates of fatal prescription drug overdoses. Many become addicted after using them to treat conditions like back or neck pain.
But no matter what type of painkiller you choose, the bottom line to remember is that they do not come without risks! Unfortunately, if you visit your conventional doctor with severe neck pain, a long-term treatment plan will typically include a drug-combination approach, using anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-seizure medications, muscle relaxants and possibly other types of pain medication as well. In other words, the answer for pain relief is drugs, drugs and more drugs — each one raising your risk of suffering potentially lethal side effects.
Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.
How to Relieve Neck Pain and Dizziness Naturally
- A modified Epley manoeuvre is a type of physical therapy often prescribed that involves head and body movements done while sitting on a bed. Traditionally, it is performed in a doctor or physical therapist’s office, but it may also be prescribed to do at home. Once a patient has received proper instruction, this maneuver can resolve symptoms within a week for many patients.
- Vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for patients diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Your doctor can check to see if you have a vitamin D deficiency.
- Herbal remedies such as ginger root, ginkgo biloba, and coriander may help reduce vertigo symptoms in some people.
- Acupuncture may be helpful in resolving symptoms of some types of vertigo.
- Avoid substances that can affect circulation, including caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Chiropractic Care : Chiropractic works by opening stuck joints, returning movement to the spine, and removing any nerve impingement that might be happening. If a disc herniation is involved, chiropractic is a natural way to provide a long-term solution. Chiropractic gets to the source of the problem, not just addressing the symptoms but finding the area of dysfunction and returning it normal physiology—in other words, making the area work the way it’s supposed to. When function returns, pain goes away. But mind you, getting rid of pain is not the only name of the game as far as chiropractic is concerned; return to function is the real goal, because when function returns, pain goes away on its own. Pain is nothing more than a warning signal telling you when something is wrong. Shutting off the alarm instead of investigating what is causing the alarm to go off only sets you up for a recurring problem. Once found, the solution can then be applied.
This feasibility study was conducted to further the development of a line of investigation into the potential effects of spinal manipulation/manual therapy on cervicogenic dizziness, balance, and neck pain in adults.
A single-group, preexperimental, feasibility study was conducted at a chiropractic college health center and a senior fitness center with a target sample size of 20 patients (40 years or older). Patients were treated by either a clinician or a chiropractic student intern for 8 weeks. The Dizziness Handicap Inventory was the primary outcome measurement, with the Short Form Berg Balance Scale (SF-BBS) and the Neck Disability Index used as secondary outcome measurements.
Twenty-seven patients were recruited over a period of 13 months. Twenty-one patients enrolled in the study; but because of 2 dropouts, 19 patients completed the treatment. A median Dizziness Handicap Inventory change score of +7 points was calculated for those dizziness patients, with 3 patients improving by at least 18 points, indicating a clinically meaningful change. Seven of the 15 patients who performed the SF-BBS attained at least a 4-point improvement with an effect size of 1.2. A median Neck Disability Index change score of +1 was calculated for those patients with neck pain.
Twelve minor adverse reactions were reported by 8 patients, with 3 of those reactions lasting longer than 24 hours.