Neck Pain and Dizziness

Most of the time, we ignore neck pain and dizziness. We tend to assume that a massage or self medication is all we need to get rid of these common medical conditions. You may first search the internet for any information, try to diagnose yourself and relieve the discomfort. But remember, no article can replace a doctor. It is important to see a medical practitioner especially if the symptoms are severe and persistent.

Neck Pain and Having Dizziness, Why?

You may be wondering why you are experiencing both neck pain and dizziness at the same time. Below are some of the problems you could be having:

1. Vertebral Artery Dissection (VAD)

Vertebral artery dissection (VAD) is simply a torn artery. Blood flow to the brain could be cut off by a tear in this blood vessel leading to a stroke. VAD is one of the leading causes of stroke in adults of 18 to 45 years of age. It is also considered the leading cause of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) whose symptoms could last for only a few minutes or extend for up to 24 hours. People suffering from VAD also experience headaches and difficulty in coordination and balancing in addition to neck pain and dizziness.

VAD treatment focuses on repairing the torn artery and reducing stroke occurrences. Medicines like heparin and aspirin, which prevent blood clots and blocking of major blood vessels, are normally administered.

2. Cervical Vertigo

Cervical vertigo refers to a condition where you feel dizzy when you move your neck. It may be due to major trauma caused by car accidents, chiropractic manipulation of the neck or sports injuries. Cervical vertigo is common in women between 30 and 50 years of age. It is difficult to diagnose due to the many possible illnesses that need to be ruled out first. Dizziness that occurs after a neck injury can be associated with other vertigo types or diseases of the inner ear. Patients may experience ear pain in addition to neck pain and dizziness. However, they should not suffer hearing loss.

Treatment using medication and physical therapy to ease pain and relax muscles is recommended. Patients should not have a chiropractor snap their necks as this compresses the arteries near the neck.

3. Whiplash

A neck injury caused by a forceful back and forth movement of the neck is called a whiplash. It may be caused by a sports accident, physical abuse, a rear end car accident or any other form of trauma. Major symptoms that develop within 24 hours include stiff neck, shoulder pain, headache, fatigue, neck pain and dizziness. Other signs include irritability, blurred vision, depression, memory problems, difficulty concentrating and ringing in the ears.

Visit a doctor if you experience whiplash symptoms for proper diagnosis to rule out other factors that could cause such symptoms. Treatment is usually aimed at restoring normal motion range to your neck, controlling pain and helping you resume normal activities. Treatment options vary based on severity ranging from home care and over the counter drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to specialized treatment, prescription drugs and physical therapy. Doctors may recommend rest, ice or heat treatment, muscle relaxants, exercise and foam collars.

4. Barre-Lieou Syndrome

Barre-Lieou syndrome is characterized by a dysfunction in a group of nerves found near the vertebrae in the neck. Symptoms include tinnitus, headache, nausea, vertigo, teary eyes, blurred vision, sinus congestion, and ear, neck, dental and facial pain. Other signs include a numb face, shoulder pain, weak muscles, bluish face, swelling on one side of the face, fatigue and pins and needles in the hands and forearms.

Barre-Lieou syndrome requires a professional for it is difficult to diagnose. Physical therapy, medications and nerve blocks directed on the sympathetic system are used to relieve symptoms and put the body back to normal state. Consider getting checked for Barre-Lieou syndrome if you have persistent neck and head pain after a car accident or prolonged migraine causing numbness and blurred vision.

5. Cervicogenic Dizziness

Cervicogenic dizziness is caused by a neurovascular compression due to degenerative changes in the cervical vertebrae which is responsible for keeping the head upright. This leads to rigidity. It could also be caused by a conflict between the information on vision and the inner ear and the movements of the head leading to instability and dizziness. This condition can occur as a result of fatigue, poor posture or anxiety.

The feeling is uncomfortable and paralyzing. Common symptoms include chills, the nape of the neck feeling tense, tingling and dizziness. Treatment options include lavender or rosemary water baths, hot/cold treatments, a regular sleep pattern and physical therapy. You should also keep off intense physical activity that could inflame the cervicogenic region.

6. Neck Strain

Neck strain is described as injury on tendons and muscles that are involved in moving and supporting the neck and head. Neck strain can cause neck pain and dizziness. The pain may occur immediately if the injury is severe or a bit later for milder injuries. You could also experience inability to perform tasks and symptoms attributed to nerve irritation which include numbness, weakness, tingling, incoordination and neck stiffness. Neck stiffness may extend to the lower back. In rare cases, one may find it difficult to swallow, breath and even chew. But neck strain does not cause the swelling of lymph nodes.

Anyone exhibiting such symptoms should seek medical attention. Mostly, neck strains will heal themselves with the right self-care treatment. This involves resting and applying heat locally. Further evaluation should be done if the pain persists for more than two weeks. Chiropractic care, osteopathic manipulative therapy and acupuncture should be considered. Persistent pain can be treated by home cervical traction.

7. Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is degeneration of discs of the neck and bones due to aging. This degeneration starts after the age of 30. Symptoms include:

  • Neck pain: It may extend to the base of the skull and the shoulders. If a nerve that goes to the arm from the spinal cord is affected, the pain spreads to the arm, hand and fingers. It comes and goes and could also become chronic.
  • Neck stiffness especially in the morning.
  • Headaches that usually begin at the back of the head and extend to the forehead.
  • Pins and needles in part of the arm or hand which could be caused by an irritated nerve.
  • Cervical radiculopathy which occurs as a result of pressure on a nerve leading to numbness.
  • If pressure from a worn bone damages the spinal cord, one can have problems walking, hand clumsiness or poor bladder function.

Treatment involves neck exercise and being active to prevent the neck from stiffening up. Just move the neck gently in each direction every few hours several times a day. Rest during flare ups since the pain may be quite bad.

8. Other Causes

  • Meningitis: This is an infection on the tissue that encases the brain (meninges). Symptoms include neck pain and dizziness, nausea, fever and neck stiffness.
  • Migraine: This is a form of intense head pain with symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea and being sensitive to light. These symptoms vary between individuals. Migraines may have precursor symptoms like neck pain which indicate an oncoming attack. Although migraines occur in both genders, they are more common in women.
  • Chewing: Headache and neck pain can be caused by chewing a thick piece of meat or gum vigorously.
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