Neck Pain and Dizziness: Diagnosing the Problem

neck pain and dizzinessDizziness and neck pain are common medical conditions that we often assume will go away with self-medication or a massage. Although you may be hopeful that you can self-diagnose using the vast array of medical information available on internet, not even the best article’s a substitute for a doctor. Make sure you see a healthcare specialist regardless, and especially if symptoms are persistent or severe.

But before you rush off to the hospital, try using the yoga stretches presented in this course and see if it helps relieve your discomfort.

Dizziness

Commonly characterized by lightheadedness and a spinning sensation, dizziness is usually a temporary condition that can go away even before you reach a clinic or hospital – unless you live right next door, of course. Although oftentimes fleeting, it’s still not something you can take lightly.

Essential to a doctor’s diagnosis is having the patient express his or her understanding of the feeling of dizziness. Vertigo, a spinning sensation, is usually caused by problems occurring in the inner ear or areas of the brain responsible for balance and coordination. On the other hand, lightheadedness is commonly a result of a lack of oxygen or blood supply to the brain.

Common Causes of Dizziness

  • Low Blood Pressure

Oxygen’s delivered to the brain through the blood stream. When blood pressure starts to drop, the brain’s blood supply lowers, making a person start to feel light-headed. Some of the reasons for having low blood pressure include:

a. Anemia or low red blood cell count
b. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or worse – heat stroke
c. Dehydration
d. Loss of blood or bleeding

  • Diabetes

Dizziness in diabetic patients is caused either by having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Both can result in your brain being unable to properly use the glucose it needs to function. Treatment will depend on the type of diabetes, and is best left to a physician. To learn how to live with diabetes, check out this course for some great information on the subject.

  • Inner Ear Infections and Diseases

The ear’s not only responsible for hearing. It also facilitates balance. Dizziness caused by vertigo could happen because of:

a. Labyrinthitis – inflammation of the middle and inner ear
b. Meniere’s disease – disorder of the flow of fluids in the inner ear
c. Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV) – occurs when you abruptly change positions and calcium crystals find their way into the inner ear

  • Hyperventilation

Rapid breathing, otherwise known as hyperventilation, can be a person’s reaction to anxiety or emotional stress. It’s also the body’s way of getting rid of carbon dioxide and maintaining oxygen levels in the blood. Aside from feeling dizzy, you can also feel a tingling sensation in your hands, feet, and mouth.

Neck Pain

Another common symptom that prompts a person to visit his or her doctor’s pain felt in the neck. Also referred to as “cervical pain”, it can stem from a number of conditions ranging from injuries, to illnesses caused by common or rare infections.

These activities put you at high risk for neck pain:

  • Rodeo sports such as Bronco Riding, Calf Roping, and Bull Riding
  • Contact sports
  • Motor vehicle racing
  • Extreme sports

While it’s quite impossible for some people to give up these activities all together, neck pain can be avoided by wearing a cervical collar specific to your sports. Or there’s neck strengthening exercises to build protection from cervical pain.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

  • Whiplash

Whiplash often comes after a car accident a. –  or just a particularly wild carnival ride. Physical abuse or sport’s injuries can also come into play . When a person’s neck is thrown backwards then suddenly whipped forward, muscles and ligaments are extended, stretched, and torn.

Whiplash symptoms usually come within 24 hours following the incident, and at its worst 1 to 2 days after the incident. But it can sometimes still take several days just to show up.

With more minor cases, whiplash can be treated at home with painkillers or muscle relaxants prescribed by your physician. Your medication’s best complemented with physical therapy and neck exercises. Wearing a neck collar’s usually limited to severe cases, as new findings suggests it’s better to remain active.

  • Muscle Strain

Although neck strain is often not a serious condition, the pain alone can turn a day uncomfortable and unproductive. It’s often caused by poor posture or otherwise spending too much time in an uncomfortable position. Muscle strain can also pop up after sleeping on a stiff surface, or using a pillow that’s too firm or too high for your neck, resulting in a stiff neck and/or shoulder pains.

Usually, the pain goes away within a couple days. You can reduce the pain during the first 24 hours by applying an ice or cold pack in twenty-minute intervals. After which, let the heat from a hot shower, as well as a gentle massage in the neck and shoulder areas promote blood flow to help heal the strained neck muscles.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines complete the set of self-care remedies to this uncomfortable condition. The best practice is prevention though, and this course will teach you how to do it by improving your posture.

  • Degenerative Diseases

As we grow older, the body goes through a lot of changes. Some of these changes are due to some of our organs and tissues deteriorating. Think of an aging body as a machine that’s slowly experiencing wear and tear. It can’t be avoided, but it can be treated, usually with pain medication, physical therapy, and surgery. This blog post gives you some good stretches for relieving neck pain.

Some age-related diseases with neck pain as one of its key symptoms include:

a. Cervical Spinal Stenosis – the condition in which the spinal canal in the neck area becomes too narrow for the nerves housed in the spinal cord to function properly; the squeezing of the nerves and the spinal cord affects bladder and bowel control, and causes pain, numbness, and/or weakness in the arms, legs, and neck

b. Cervical Osteoarthritis – also referred to as “neck arthritis”; involves the gradual breaking down of the bones, discs, and joints of the neck

When You Experience Both Dizziness and Neck Pain

It’s important to remember that dizziness and neck pain aren’t diseases or illnesses by themselves. They’re symptoms that stem from a number of conditions. This is exactly why it’s always best to consult a physician, especially when you’re experiencing both symptoms.

Here are some of the possibilities that your doctor might explore with you:

  • Vertebral Artery Dissection (VAD)

Simply put, vertebral artery dissection or VAD is a torn artery. A tear in this blood vessel can cut off the flow of blood to the brain and lead to a stroke.

VAD is considered a leading cause of stroke in adults aged 18 to 45. It’s also the leading cause of “mini-strokes”, or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), with symptoms lasting anywhere between a few minutes to 24 hours. Besides neck pain and dizziness, people with VAD often get headaches and can have difficulty maintaining balance and coordination.

Treatment for VAD is focused on reducing stroke episodes, and repairing the tear in the artery. This involves taking medicines like aspirin and heparin that prevent blood from clotting and in effect, clogging major blood vessels.

  • Cervical Vertigo

After reading this, you might want to have a word with your chiropractor about not having your neck forcefully manipulated or “snapped”. Major trauma from car accidents, sports injuries, and chiropractic neck manipulation can cause you to experience dizziness with moving your neck – cervical vertigo.

Common in women aged 30 to 50 years old, cervical vertigo’s quite hard to diagnose because of the large number of other possible illnesses that need to be ruled out. Dizziness following a neck injury can be attributed to inner ear diseases, and even other types of vertigo. Aside from dizziness accompanying the neck pain, ear pain is also a possible symptom. Patients with cervical vertigo shouldn’t experience any hearing loss.

Cervical vertigo experts recommend treating with physical therapy and medication to relax your muscles and ease pain. The very same experts do not encourage patients with any type of vertigo to have their neck “snapped” by a chiropractor, as this causes arteries near your neck to compress.

Go to the Doctor

While it is true that dizziness lasts only for a few moments, you definitely shouldn’t let it pass without seeing a doctor. And if you truly believe that an ice pack and some pain-relieving medicines will help ease your neck pain, then you ought to realize that these are only temporary fixes.

Until your physician takes a good look, you won’t know for sure how serious it is and what treatments may be need. When it comes to your health, gut feelings and the internet are second to the true experts – doctors. But again, prevention is huge. Use this course to learn how to stay pain free at work.