Your Balance Control relies on input from 3 main sources:
1. Sensory inputs from your inner ear motion sensors, your vision and sense of touch
2. Your brain and it’s ability to process this information
3. Your muscles and joints that coordinate the movements required to maintain balance, including those in your neck
This is usually done automatically, but when a part of this process is disrupted, it can lead to dizziness and issues with equilibrium.
Causes of dizziness
- Trauma such as car accidents, a blow in the head (concussion), a fall on your tailbone, falls from a height, brain injury
- Stress and accumulated body tension
- Age related hormonal changes
- Surgery involving any of the balance control components
This may result in changes in the connective tissues in the skull, brain, nervous system and joint mechanoreceptors, leading to altered messages being sent about the balance control process.
- Vertigo, feeling as if the room is spinning
- Feeling faint
- Unsteadiness, wooziness, loss of balance
- Visual disturbances
- Fatigue, weakness
- Cluster: pain localized in one eye
- Sinus: pain behind browbone and/or cheekbones
- Tension: pain felt like a tight band around your head
- Migraine: pain, nausea and/or altered vision
What to do
Your team of physiotherapists and chiropractor at Cedar each have specialized training to assess and treat this control system. Because of their diverse interests and training in this area, you may be recommended to consult one or more team members at Cedar for the best integrated approach.
Below is a case example of the profound effect of minor restrictions to structures in the balance control system (the cranium in this case) that can completely disrupt ones equilibrium and cause debilitating symptoms.
Mrs. M is a 60 year old female who came to see May for vestibular rehabilitation due to symptoms of dizziness, unsteadiness and body swaying when sitting or standing over the last 2.5 years. She attributed her symptoms to a car accident that resulted in loss of consciousness and a small bleed in her brain (as per MRI).
Mrs. M stated that her symptoms were worse in the morning, riding in buses and climbing stairs. She felt very unsteady at times as if she was going to fall. Her sleep had been very disturbed, waking up every 2 hours. She had not been able to drive since the car accident and stated that her quality of life was substantially decreased as a result.
Upon examination, she has a restrictions in her right tentorium (a dura membranous structure that wraps around the brain and is continuous to the spinal cord), sutural fixation of her right squamosal suture, sphenofrontal suture and the lateral aspect of the coronal suture. The sphenoid bone was compressed and rotated to the right. Dix Hallipike (test for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV) was negative, suggesting that her symptoms were not related to inner ear dysfunction.
Being trained in vestibular rehab, visceral manipulation, neural manipulation and craniosacral therapy, May was able to identify the origins of her symptoms and release the restrictions. After 3 sessions, she was able to sit for longer without her body swaying. After 5 sessions, her morning dizziness was significantly decreased and she no long felt as if she was going to fall while walking around during the day. After a total of 15 sessions, she was able to climb stairs taking alternate steps, her dizziness had completely resolved and she was able to take a 12 hour flight without any symptoms. Her sleep pattern had also returned to normal