“I don’t get dizzy when I play deck hockey anymore!” is what my patient, Jack, recently told me. I am a chiropractor who has been in practice for over 37 years. When most people consider chiropractic care they think of neck and back pain relief. While back and neck complaints make up the majority of problems my patients experience, I also am able to help other conditions. This article will discuss dizziness, its causes and how treatment to improve alignment and movement of the spinal bones of the neck can bring about relief of dizziness.
Let me tell you the whole story behind Jack’s comment. I’ve known Jack, as a patient, for many years. Periodically, he would come to my office for treatment of lower back pain. During one of these visits, he happened to mention that he was getting dizziness whenever he played deck hockey. Jack is in his mid-40s and plays in, and referees deck hockey games two or three times a week. These games are a considerable source of enjoyment and exercise for him. He was having to either drop out of games when the dizziness became too bad or to refrain completely from playing in some games.
He had correctly visited with specialists to make sure did not have a medical problem such as a cardiovascular condition. He was also tested to see if there might be an abnormality with the balance mechanism of his ears. Additionally, an MRI of his skull was performed. Fortunately, all these tests were negative for serious pathology however, his dizziness persisted.
One thing Jack told me piqued my interest. He said that he only felt dizzy when he played deck hockey and at no other time. It seemed that when he had to turn his head a lot to look for the puck and for other players the dizziness commenced. Once he sat down and rested for a while the dizziness would diminish.
While there are many causes of dizziness, one that is often overlooked is a mechanical problem with the upper spinal bones of the neck. Ideally, these bones should be in good alignment and move smoothly and normally. If there is malalignment and abnormal motion of these bones it creates a problem called “mechanical dysfunction of the spine.” Dysfunction of this area of the spine affects proprioception, the ability to know where parts of the body are in relation to one another, which we perceive as dizziness.
One hospital in Japan found that of 1000 patients who noted dizziness as their chief complaint mechanical dysfunction of the upper bones of the spine was a contributing cause in 90% of the cases.
When I examined Jack, I found that he had muscle spasms and restricted ranges of movement of the neck. X-rays were taken which confirmed spinal misalignment.
Next, I performed safe, gentle chiropractic adjustments to realign and restore proper motion to the upper spinal bones and joints. Jack was given specific exercises to increase flexibility and strength which helped with his upper body posture. Using cold pack applications daily helped hasten his recovery.
I can happily report that he had total resolution of dizziness and was able to fully resume his deck hockey activities.
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