Hi. I'm Dr. Ray Drury with the Upper Cervical Spine Center, and one of the questions I frequently get asked is about dizziness. Where does dizziness come from? What causes it? How come every time I stand up, I get lightheaded and it takes me a few seconds to get my bearings and get straightened out?
Well, there are a few different reasons why people could have dizziness. Many people take a lot of different medications, and a common side effect is dizziness. Rarely, and very rarely, there could be some sort of a tumor or some sort of growth that could be affecting your balance. What I have seen frequently for the majority of cases in our office is that something is going on in the upper part of the neck. Now, how could something in the neck create dizziness? Most of the time what we have found is that dizziness comes from the brain trying to figure out where it is in space. It's the same reflex that causes seasickness. So in the case of seasickness, your eyes look out on a flat horizon. They tell the brain, “You should be still.
You should be level.” But then the fluid in your ears and the messages from your ear to the brain tell the brain you're moving, so the brain gets confused and can't quite figure it out. It then makes you a little bit dizzy. Sometimes, the dizziness hits so hard that it goes straight into nausea, and sometimes even vomiting. What we have found is that there is something going on with the message from the ear to the brain that is getting distorted, which is then making the brain confused, so it creates the sensation of dizziness. Now, how could that possibly be?
You see, a lot of times, if you've had dizziness, you've probably been to an ENT or your medical doctor, even urologist, and they'll look at your ear and try to figure out if there is something going on with the ear. Most of the time, they'll find that the ear's perfectly fine. Well, if the ear is perfectly fine, then how could the message somehow get distorted to the brain, making the brain confused? What we have found is that there are a couple of bones at the very top of the neck. There's a nerve that goes from the ear that sends the message to the brain, called the stimula cochlear nerve.
The cochlear part is your hearing. The stimula part is the balance part. If that message, before it gets to the brain, gets altered at the top of the neck, then it sends a different message to the brain, and the brain has a hard time putting it together and trying to figure out exactly where you are in space. This is where the dizziness comes from, and sometimes it gets to the point where you could experience vomiting, which is the same reflex as seasickness. There are no nerves that come off of the brain. All the nerves in the head, face, neck, your vision, taste, smell, hearing, and balance all come off from the head, from the brainstem, and go back up into the head, face, and neck.
Therefore, if a bone is out of alignment here, it could interfere with the message between the ear and the brain, causing the dizziness. That is why the righting reflex, that whole seasickness type sensation, is why they treat dizziness with medications like Dramamine, which is the same medication they give for seasickness. It is because it's the same situation. It is simply just a confusion. The brain is saying, "Hey, nothing's making sense here." So it creates that dizzy sensation.
Taking the medications obviously aren't going to fix the problem. It's just going to temporarily mask it because you don't have a drug deficiency that creates your dizziness. There's something going on within you. So what we've got to do is try and figure out exactly what's going on inside your body that could be creating the problem. If you have a bone that is out of alignment at the top of your neck, then that is where we can help you. If you are having dizziness or vertigo sensations, the best thing you can do is rule out that there may be a problem at the top of your neck. If there is a problem, go see an upper cervical doctor and let them fix it. Then the problem goes away. If there is not a problem, then at least you ruled that out, and we promise to continue to look to try to find someone else that could possibly help you.
If you live in the Charlotte area, we’re the doctor for you. We’re located on W. Arrowood Road, real convenient to 77 and 485. That includes Ballantyne, Gastonia, Huntersville, Cornelius, Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Matthews, and Pineville. Give our office a call. We never charge for the initial consultation to see if you might have an upper cervical problem creating your symptoms. If you do, we'll explain to you what we need to do to try and fix it. If you don't, we'll rule that out, and we'll try to find another specialist for you that can help. Give our office a call at 704-588-5560. We'll get you in our office as soon as we can. We'll get to the root cause of your problem, and then we'll tell you what we need to do to try and fix it. I hope you have a great afternoon, and I hope this information helps you. I look forward to meeting you soon. Take care.