Dizzyness and Cervical Spine Degeneration
Some doctors believe this is coincidence, whereas others consider the cervical spine disease to be the cause. This latter group have coined the term "cervicogenic vertigo"; cervico (Cervical Spine) genic (Generated) vertigo (dizzyness).
Dr. Tim Lavin MBBS MRCP (Neurology) is a a Specialist Registrar in Neurology at Greater Manchester Neurosciences Centre, Salford Royal Foundation Trust. A graduate from Newcastle University Medical School in 2006, he completed his initial training in the North West of England and New Zealand before taking up his appointment as a Neurology Specialist Trainee in 2011.
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An alternative mechanism could be an interruption in blood flow to the brain. Problems with blood supply to the balance centres can cause vertigo and as blood flow from the heart reaches these centres by way of the cervical spine, degeneration of the cervical spine could cause 'cervicogenic vertigo'. This has been termed “verterobasilar insufficiency.” Verterobasilar refers to the specific arteries involved; the vertebral and basilar arteries.
The concept of verterobasilar insufficiency has been disputed in recent times, for if a significant reduction in blood flow occurs (eg sudden artery occlusion in conditions such as vertebral dissection), it would not just cause vertigo but other problems such as difficulty walking and double vision. Therefore if vertigo occurs in isolation then reduced blood flow from the cervical spine is unlikely to be the cause.
So does Cervicogenic Vertigo really exist?
Chronic pain and dizziness are commonly experienced by patients with cervical spine disease. This can be distressing. Some patients have noted that their dizzy symptoms can be improved by cervical physiotherapy, effective pain control and psychological intervention.
Not infrequently, patients with cervical spine disease will have a different, coexisting condition causing their vertigo and dizziness. The most common causes include benign positional paroxysmal vertigo, acute labyrinthitis, drug side effects and Migraine. It is important these conditions are considered by your doctor as their treatment is different from cervical spine disease. Amongst these, vestibular migraine, a form of Migraine is most commonly misdiagnosed as cervicogenic vertigo. This condition causes neck pain, headache and vertigo. Interestingly the vertigo can persistent without headache, but importantly these symptoms can respond to anti-migraine medications.
So, in summary
- Dizzyness is a common symptom amongst people with cervical spine disease
- This often caused by a different condition
- Some feel that dizzyness can be due to disease of the cervical spine, although this is far from proven at this stage
- Diagnosis of the correct cause is important in order to offer tailored treatments