August 3, 2021

Physical Therapy for Cervicogenic Dizziness


Gilbert Tam, SPT, CSCS NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist LSVT Big Certified Provider PWR!Moves Certified Therapist Graston Technique Specialist

Read Time

2-3 minutes

What is Cervicogenic Dizziness?

Cervicogenic dizziness (CGD) is caused by something abnormal in the neck. Dysfunctional cervical joints, tightness of cervical muscles, and/or myofascial trigger points can all be contributions to dizziness.1 It can be a result of trauma, whiplash associated disorder (WAD), headaches, or sometimes it can be insidious. What does this mean? Neck stiffness and neck pain can cause dizziness, and physical therapy can treat cervicogenic dizziness!

How does neck stiffness and pain make me dizzy?

When you have stiffness and decreased range of motion (ROM) in the neck, especially in the upper segments, the joints’ ability to sense position is distorted, altering their normal sensory input, resulting in dizziness.2 

As mentioned before, pain and tenderness in the muscles around the neck also contribute to dizziness. These muscles have the high density of proprioceptors, or the joint position sensors.1 Trigger points in these muscles lead to tightness and decreases your cervical ROM, leading to greater proprioception loss, leading to more dizziness.1 So, you can see how this process is a vicious cycle. Physical therapy can break this cycle.

These processes in the vicious cycle of dizziness also cause headaches, so dizziness and headache can often times be concurrent.2,3 Physical therapy for cervicogenic dizziness will help improve the joint stiffness, muscle tightness, and trigger point pain, in order to break this cycle. Therefore, our manual therapy techniques and exercises will help not only help dizziness, but also neck pain and headaches!

Physical Therapy for Cervicogenic Dizziness

The neck is assessed first whether the dizziness is caused by the pain and stiffness in the neck, or vertigo caused by the inner ear.4 Physical therapy also treats the vestibular system, so no matter where the dizziness is coming from, physical therapy is where you should be! At Imagine Physical Therapy, we can quickly and effectively treat cervicogenic dizziness with the highest supported practices based in research. These evidence-based practices include, but not limited to dry needling, the Mulligan Concept™ Mobilization With Movement, Passive Joint Mobilization, and therapeutic exercise.2,3,5 We are committed to relieving your symptoms and helping you regain confidence in your abilities to perform prior activities before dizziness, so call your local Imagine Physical Therapy office today and book an appointment to get you started on your rehabilitation journey!


  1. 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; a prospective randomized clinical study. Pain Med. 2019;20:153-160.
  2. Micarelli A, Viziano A, Granito I, et al. Postural and clinical outcomes of sustained natural apohyseal glides treatment in cervicogenic dizziness patients: a randomised controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2021:1-11.
  3. Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, et al. A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine. 2002;27(17):1835-1843.
  4. Bhattacharyya N, Gubbels SP, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (update). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;156(3):1-47.

Escaloni J, Butts R, Dunning J. The use of dry needling as a diagnostic tool and clinical treatment for cervicogenic dizziness: a narrative review and case series. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018:1-9.