March 27, 2022

Dizzy? Want Us to Fix That?

Author

Emily Denton, SPT

Read Time

3-4 minutes


There are many different things that can contribute to dizziness. One of the first things physical therapists look for in patients experiencing dizziness or vertigo are limitations in neck range of motion and strength. Why? Misalignment of the bones of our neck can affect the body’s ability to interpret sensory information telling our brain where we are in space1. This causes us to feel dizzy!

How does my neck make me dizzy?

Tight muscles in your neck are often the culprit of range of motion limitations and strength deficits, and therefore, miniscule misalignments of your neck bones1, 2. It’s common to enter a tricky cycle of avoiding motions that make you dizzy, the muscles tightening further because you’re avoiding those motions, and you becoming more dizzy2. That’s where Imagine Physical Therapy comes in!

How can physical therapy help my dizziness?

Physical therapy can help address range of motion and strength limitations through stretches and exercises of the arms and neck3. In fact, research has shown that there is a strong connection between weak neck muscles and increased pain and dizziness3. Your physical therapist will also use gentle, hands-on techniques to help correct the movement in your neck joints and decrease dizziness (and possible headaches!)  while performing different movements of the neck such as turning your head side-to-side and up-and-down4.

Physical therapy can also address sore spots in the neck muscles that contribute to your dizziness by using a technique called dry needling5. Your physical therapist will place small needles, similar to those used in acupuncture, into the muscles to help relieve tension and pain, subsequently alleviating your dizziness and any headaches that coincide with your dizziness5.

What’s next?

Treating any neck restrictions is the first step in addressing dizziness1! By ensuring appropriate neck movement and strength, we are able to more accurately assess other potential causes of dizziness1. However, fixing the neck alone might just fix the dizziness! Don’t let dizziness keep holding you back from the things you love; schedule an appointment with Imagine Physical Therapy today!




References

  1. Jung FC, Mathew S, Littman AE, Macdonald CW. Clinical decision making of patients with cervicogenic dizziness: a case series. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017;47(11):874-884.
  2. AlSaif AA, Johnson EG. Cervicogenic dizziness: implications for physical therapy. Indian J Physiother Occup Ther. 2011;5(4):6-11. 
  3. Thoomes-De Graff M, Schmitt MA. The effect of training the deep cervical flexors on neck pain, neck mobility, and dizziness in a patient with chronic nonspecific neck pain after prolonged bed rest: a case report. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012;42(10):853-860.
  4. Hall T, Chan HT, Christensen L, Odenthal B, Wells C, Robinson K. Efficacy of a C1-C2 self-sustained natural apophyseal glide (SNAG) in the management of cervicogenic headache. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2007;37:100-107.
  5. Aydin T, Dernek B, Ege TS, Karan A, Aksoy C. The effectiveness of dry needling and exercise therapy in patients with dizziness caused by cervical myofascial pain syndrome; prospective randomized clinical study. Pain Med. 2019;20(1):153-160.