Do you experience chronic neck pain and dizziness and you are looking for a treatment for this condition? You are at the right place.
In this piece, we would be discussing
- The causes of neck pain
- Home remedies for the treatment of neck pain and dizziness
- Treatment of neck pain and dizziness
Neck pain is a common medical condition. Neck pain is also known as cervical pain. It can come from a number of disorders and diseases and can affect any tissue in the neck. However, there are several treatments available to relieve neck pain.
Although neck pain or a neck problem has not been scientifically proven as a cause of dizziness, patients and doctors commonly report it. Hence, it may be difficult to know if your dizziness and neck pain are related or a coincidence, however, the good news is that treatment is available. This is where an experienced physiotherapist with the skills to assess and treat both neck pain and dysfunction and any vestibular dizziness is important.
Some ways dizziness can stem from neck pain are;
- Dysfunction of the neck (cervical spine), known as Cerviocogenic dizziness.
- Neural problem, such as an injury to a proprioceptor in the neck.
- Compression or vascular narrowing, as in the vertebral artery that supplies blood to the brain.
Other causes of neck pain and dizziness that occur together are also possible, but more research and better diagnostic tests are needed to determine if dizziness can really be caused by a neck problem.
Although dizziness usually begins quickly, neck pain can develop gradually or rapidly.
In this article, we will discuss all the available options in the treatment of neck pain and dizziness.
Causes of Neck Pain and Dizziness
Dizziness and neck pain can occur together in some cases. For some people, dizziness may be the most visible and the most worrying. For others, neck pain can be more worrisome, with occasional dizziness.
- Cervical Spondylosis: Degeneration of the spine in the neck also called cervical spondylosis, may be the result of cervical osteoarthritis, degenerative disease of the cervical disc and other wear on the spine over time. As intervertebral discs and joints break, nerve roots and blood vessels can compress, which can contribute to dizziness in rare cases. If this condition affects the upper neck, it can cause a headache that applies to the back of the head and/or behind the eyes or to the front/sides of the head.
- Whiplash: This injury means that the neck moves quickly back and forth, as in a car accident or any other collision. Neck pain is the most common symptom of whiplash, but dizziness and other symptoms may also occur. It is assumed that, in some cases, an injury to the joints and/or neck muscles can alter proprioceptors and contribute to dizziness.
- Bow Hunter Syndrome: In rare cases, turning the head to the side can compress the vertebral artery, causing temporary dizziness in some people. The compression of the vertebral artery in bow hunter’s syndrome is more likely to occur between C1 and C2.
- Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency (VBI): VBI can occur when one or more of the main arteries leading to the brain are compressed or unable to supply enough blood, which could cause dizziness.
- Myofascial Cervical Pain Syndrome (CMPS): This rare condition involves painful trigger points in the muscles of the neck and fascia (connective tissue). The cause of CMPS is unknown, but it is estimated that about 35% of people with this disease also have associated dizziness. This condition can often be treated with physical therapy, medications or local injections at the point of activation.
Home Remedies for the Treatment of Neck Pain and Dizziness
Neck pain and dizziness can get worse unexpectedly. Hence, causing difficulty concentrating, standing, and even walking. To help control or reduce the epidemics of neck pain and dizziness, here are some treatment tips to try at home:
- Sitting or lying down, which generally helps relieve the discomfort or unsteadiness of dizziness, while reducing the risk of a serious fall or accident.
- Close your eyes if the sitting or lying position is insufficient. Even when seated, some people see the room spinning, which can stop after bedtime and rest with their eyes closed.
- Also, reducing stress, which can contribute to some cases of neck pain and dizziness. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and learn stress management techniques. If depression, anxiety and/or chronic pain are a problem, a cognitive-behavioral therapist can be useful for learning stress management techniques.
- Keep movements fluid and constant to reduce the risk of dizziness. If certain movements or activities continue to cause dizziness, it is best to modify or avoid them. such movements can include getting up quickly or holding your head to the side.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated, which can increase mental and physical well-being. Some people may also experience fewer episodes of dizziness after quitting smoking or limiting caffeine and alcohol.
- In addition, soft stretches and neck exercises help improve neck strength and mobility, which can reduce the risk of neck pain and associated dizziness.
- Improved posture to reduce pressure on nerves, blood vessels, and muscles that may contribute to neck pain and dizziness. Improvements may include reminders to verify good posture. That is having the head in a neutral position with the ears directly on the shoulders when sitting or standing. Establishing an ergonomic workspace and getting up regularly to walk instead of sitting for hours.
- Applying ice can help reduce swelling and pain. The application of heat can help relax the muscles and bring more blood flow and nutrient healing to the injured area. For ice or heat therapy, applications are limited to 15 or 20 minutes with a break of at least 2 hours in between to allow time for the skin to recover.
Treatment of Neck Pain and Dizziness
Most neck pain can be treated with non-surgical methods, such as personal care at home and/or with the advice of a healthcare professional. Below are the treatment options available for neck pain and dizziness.
Many treatment plans for persistent neck pain include some form of physical therapy to improve neck strength and flexibility. The structure and duration of the physiotherapy program may vary depending on the specific diagnosis and situation. Several sessions per week can be recommended with a qualified physical therapist to begin. Over time, the prescribed exercises can be continued at home.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen, are usually tested first for neck pain. If neck pain persists, a doctor may prescribe more potent medications, such as prescription-strength NSAIDs, muscle relaxants or opioids, in the short term. Before taking any medication, read the instructions carefully and follow the doctor’s instructions to reduce the risk of serious complications.
3. Alternative treatments for neck pain
Alternative or complementary treatments tend to have less rigorous scientific support, but many people have reported receiving them when they treat neck pain.
- Massage therapy. A massage can relieve tension and muscle spasms, reduce pain and promote relaxation. Some people may prefer self-massage or a massage from a friend or fellow volunteer, while others may find more relief when the massage is done by a qualified professional.
- Manual manipulation. A chiropractor, osteopath or other health professionals can use their hands to adjust the spine to improve range of motion and reduce pain. Vertebral manipulation implies manipulation at high speed, while vertebral mobilization implies more limited techniques in its range of motion. Before undergoing high-speed cervical manipulation, it is important to exclude any vertebral instability or underlying medical condition to reduce the risk of rare but serious complications, such as a stroke.
- Acupuncture. A certified acupuncturist places fine needles at specific points of the skin depending on the type of pain or the suspected cause. When treating neck pain, needles can be placed in the neck or any other part of the body with the belief that unlocking stagnant energy (qi) can promote healing.
- Conscious Meditation. Mindfulness and meditation can help relax the body, reduce pain or give you a feeling of greater control over pain. There are several methods available, such as controlled breathing exercises and distraction techniques.
Some people may find alternative treatments more tolerable than some medical treatments, such as for people experiencing serious side effects of medications.
4. Therapeutic injection procedures
Certain injections of the cervical spine can help relieve neck pain.
- Cervical injection of epidural steroids: Using contrast-enhanced fluoroscopy (x-ray guide), a steroid cortisone solution is injected into the cervical epidural space, which is the outer layer of the spinal canal. The goal is to reduce inflammation of the roots and nearby nerve tissue, usually caused by a herniated disc or other spinal degeneration.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): If a facet joint is the confirmed source of pain, RFA can be considered. Using fluoroscopy, a special needle is placed near the sensory nerve of the facet joint to create a heat injury that prevents pain signals from reaching the brain. RFA generally provides more lasting relief. One study found that about 30% of patients still experience relief 3 years after RFA treatment.
- Injection at the activation point: These injections are usually done without an injected solution and use a very fine needle, such as an acupuncture needle. In some cases, a very small amount of local anesthetic can be used to soothe an irritated muscle lump or trigger point.
When to See a Doctor
It is advisable for people with persistent neck pain and dizziness that affect the quality of life to contact a doctor for treatment. A licensed health professional can do an evaluation in person and recommend treatments.
A doctor can also advise you on the need to avoid specific activities for a period of time until the symptoms of dizziness are better managed. For example, people who regularly experience unexpected dizziness may have to refrain from driving, using scales or ladders and other activities that require high levels of concentration and/or balance to avoid serious injuries.
Seek immediate medical attention if neck pain and dizziness are accompanied by other worrying symptoms, such as severe headache, nausea, intestinal/bladder dysfunction, weakness, numbness or lack of coordination or walking.
Summary and Recommendation
All the methods discussed above are great in the treatment of neck pain and dizziness.
However, it is advisable to try using physiotherapy and medical options before opting for therapeutic injections.
Injections tend to provide temporary relief because they reduce inflammation or block pain, rather than attack the underlying cause. If an injection helps reduce neck pain, it is still important to use this period of time to continue therapeutic exercises and lifestyle changes that can provide longer-term relief.
Although the risk is relatively low, injections carry the risk of serious side effects. Injections are usually one of the last treatments to try before considering surgery.
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