Feeling disoriented? Is it vertigo, dizziness, light-headedness, post-concussion syndrome, syncope, vestibular migraine, lack of sleep or my diet?

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February 20, 2016

Feeling off, or disoriented is a common thread seen within many individuals, and most certainly within the patient population treated at our office. The question is, what could be the cause? What makes a person feel like they are not centered, or balanced in their environment. The answer is simple, but the reason behind it may be complex. 

If your gaze is unsteady, or your eye movements are innacurate, then your natural response is to correct your visual errors. I'm not talking about visual acuity based upon a 20/20 scale, I'm referring to the ability to move your eyes to a novel target accurately restabilize your eyes (extraocular eye muscles) on that target so we can experience the clearest perception of that target. This becomes more difficult in an eccentric position, but most people have difficult holding their gaze steady on an object right in front of them. This is particularly apparent with patients who have had a concussion, or are experiencing vertigo/dizziness as their gaze is abruptly affected, forcing the eyes off a target due to a break in the signaling arc between the eyes and the brain. THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART, as it is the eye movement returning to the target, or corrective saccade (centralizing an image on the fovea of the retina for clearest vision) that creates that "FEELING OFF" sensation, or disorientation. This is commonly seen with people after or during reading, computer usage, cell phone usage, conversation/socializing, department stores/malls, exercise, driving, focus/concentration, et cetera. 

The aforementioned is the common thread between many of the conditions listed (sans syncope, which is due to autonomic dysregulation). The condition may be different, but a problem keeping the eyes on a target during following, gaze or quick eye movements is what causes disorientation as the eyes recorrect, quickly attempting to return to the target. THESE QUICK RECORRECTIVE EYE MOVEMENTS THAT ARE CONSTANTLY OCCURRING THROUGHOUT THE DAY ARE THE CAUSE OF OUR PERPETUAL FEELING OF MOTION OR DISORIENTATION AS OUR BODY FEELS AS IF IT IS MOVING. We diminish our position sense as the corrective eye movement (saccade) inhibits the PVP (position velocity pause neurons), which give us our spatial understanding or position sense. CONSIDER THIS, WHEN OUR EYES RECORRECT, OR DURING ANY QUICK EYE MOVEMENT, THE ENVIRONMENT MOVES IN OUR BACKGROUND IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION, WHICH GIVES US THE SENSATION OF MOVEMENT AS THE IMAGES ARE BLURRED ACROSS THE RETINA. TO OUR BRAINS, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACTUAL MOVEMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR EYES MOVING, CAUSING SLIP OF IMAGES ON OUR RETINA (OPTOKINETIC EYE MOVEMENT). If we feel like we are moving all day, then we will feel disoriented, have difficult focusing/concentrating, difficulty reading, driving or something as simple as holding eye contact during a conversation. 

The good news is that this is treatable, through the latest diagnostic procedures and neuroplasticity retraining of the extraocular system, we can return normal FOF (frequency of firing) to the eye muscles and their respective brain connections by designing specific treatments to recalibrate accuracy during eye movements. This gives the brain the proper signaling and feedback required to match up with information returning through the remaining senses providing a long-term, permanent solution for mapping of our "selves" within the environment around us. 

Treatment for Vertigo, Dizziness, Light-headedness, Post-concussion syndrome and Vestibular migraines are similar in the sense that if we can correct the inaccuracy of eye movements, we can resolve the signaling error, which neutralizes many of the symptoms involved. For instance, if we feel like we're moving all day, we often experience a vestibulo-colic reflex and suboccipital muscle spasms that will tighten our neck and cause pain and inflammation at the base of the skull, causing constriciton of nerves and blood vessels and stimulate migraine, headache and occipital neuralgia responses. If we treat the error in the brain-eye movement arc, we restore structure and muscle response in the neck and remove interference of nerves/blood vessels causing neck pain, migraine or headache. 

At Portland Chiropractic Neurology, we specialize in the functional assessment and treatment of neurological disorders, and we are the only practice like it in Maine. We are located at 959 congress st, Portland Maine and can be reached at info@portchiro.com or 207-699-5600. Please contact us if you have questions concerning your health.