Inner ear disorders can be classified into categories such as vertigo/dizziness, tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, etc. Vertigo and dizziness can have a wide array of causes. Symptoms and episodes of dizziness can range from mild to severe and can affect each patient differently. Accompanying these sensations may be nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or a feeling of fullness in the ears. Inner ear disorders have been linked to trauma at the upper neck region, injuries such as but not limited to, concussions, whiplash, a vehicle accident, a fall, a sports injury, etc. Research has shown that the onset of certain symptoms from these types of injuries may not develop until months or years down the road. A trauma, even a mild injury that directly or indirectly affects the upper cervical spine can have a long list of implications. We will describe why this may be the case later in this article but first let’s take a look at the following study that showed the benefits of upper cervical care for those suffering with Meniere’s disease.
Study involving 300 patients with Meniere’s disease: The patients ranked their average vertigo severity on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst imaginable. The average score for the patients was 8.5. After six weeks of upper cervical chiropractic adjustments the mean score dropped to 3.0. After one year the mean score dropped to a 2.0, after two years it was down to 1.4, three years 0.9 and 0.8 the fourth year. “Many patients noticed an improvement before they left the office after their first adjustment. The longest it took for a patient to report a noticeable improvement was fourteen weeks.” All 300 patients showed evidence of an upper cervical subluxation and all exhibited evidence of a history of whiplash. 291 out of 300 patients had improvements that made a significant difference. It’s important to note that the Meniere’s Research Institute has established a link between whiplash (link to whiplash condition) and Meniere’s disease. The mean average from the time of trauma that may have misaligned the atlas to the onset of symptoms was fifteen years. (1) Again, this means that an injury that may have occurred many years ago could be the reason why you are experiencing the onset of certain symptoms now.
Since upper cervical (neck) injuries or traumas have been shown to be a common link in inner ear disorders, it is imperative to further investigate this area. The upper cervical region, also known as the craniocervical junction, is an area of critical importance. Within this region lies the brainstem. The brainstem is responsible for controlling and regulating vital autonomic functions within your body such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, etc. Not only can a misalignment of one of the top two bones in your spine (known as C1/atlas and C2/axis) apply irritation, tension or pressure to this critical area causing it not to function optimally, but it can also cause a decrease in the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Vertebral arteries pass through small loops/holes on the side of your neck vertebra (bones) and these holes are called transverse vertebral foramen. When a misalignment is present in this region, it can inhibit the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the brain. A misalignment here can also inhibit the drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which is responsible for supplying the nervous system with nutrients as well as removing waste. Pooling up of CSF can lead to intracranial pressure as well as other serious conditions of concern.
A proper analysis of this area by an upper cervical chiropractor through the use of digital xrays (link to our digital x-ray page under the FAQ’s section, the question in this section is “Does your office take X-rays? Why?) will help give the doctor the ability to measure your specific misalignment to hundredths of a degree, allowing them to give a precise and proper correction. Since an upper cervical misalignment can cause nerve irritation which may be triggering the symptoms you are experiencing, it is not the goal of the upper cervical doctor to treat the inner ear disease directly, but to instead appropriately correct the misalignment. For more information or to schedule a consultation with us today, call now.
- Fallon, JM. The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol 2, No. 2 1997 p.167-183