What causes Vertigo, Imbalance and Dizziness?

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April 11, 2015

The answer is both extremely complicated and simple at the same time. How does that occur? Well, In order to understand simplicity, you must first understand complexity. That is the case with Vertigo, Imbalance (spatial disorientation) and Dizziness. They are so common within our population that it is unnerving (no pun intended), yet with advancements in understanding the neurological mechanisms behind such issues, we are able to treat these individuals with great efficacy. Unfortunately, there are few practitioners that understand this phenomenon as much as is necessary. If your eyes are moving, the scenery, or environment is moving, which causes you to feel the sensation of motion. The brain is regulatory, so there is always a reflex to return to center with anything, whether there are postural changes, head tilts and especially when our eyes drift due to weakness in our nervous system. For example, if we have less function within our left vestibular apparatus that is necessary in order to message our left cerebellar hemisphere and vestibular nuclei (among others) then we will have a drifting of the eyes to the left, when this occurs our brain recognizes the shift and quickly moves our eyes back to center (saccadic movement), which is normal. However, if this happens repetitively, we get a sensation of movement/spinning/disorientation. Often, this cannot be seen with the naked eye due and must be evaluated with infrared lens to reduce fixation from our frontal lobes, which help to reduce our reduction in central gaze stability. 

In other words, dizziness/vertigo happens when the eyes are not stable, drifting in one direction or another, causing a fast compensatory eye movement back to midline, known as a saccade. This creates the sensation of motion because the images that are perceived on your retina and relayed to your brain are MOVING, thus to your unconscious brain, YOU are MOVING. This is not the case, though, once we are able to stabilize your eyes, the movement stops because the images are steady.

Fixing this is not as difficult as it sounds. Once we locate the drifting abnormalities, or weakness within the nervous system associated with the central vestibulopathy, we can activate these areas to restore symmetry of activation or messaging to each side. This restores central gaze of vision and therefore there isn't the need for saccadic eye compensatory movements and we don't spin anymore! BPPV is the most common cause, but is really just the tip of the iceberg as there are so many important central (brain stem) mechanisms that relate to vertigo/dizziness that are often overlooked. 

This takes careful examination and specialized testing via infrared lenses and computerized posturography (balance), but with such devices, we are able to see which parts of the brain are affecting the eyes and treat them accordingly, with astonishing results. Portland Chiropractic Neurology, located in Portland Maine is one of the few centers that are able to treat such disorders utilizing particular advancements in diagnostic equipment and therapy. We are the only practice specializing in the functional neurological treatment of these disorders associated with vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, concussions, mild traumatic brain injuries and many others.