Are you experiencing dizziness and nausea after a chiropractic adjustment? Or are you wondering if chiropractors can help ease vertigo you have now? We get asked questions like this often. Let’s look at the little-known facts behind vertigo and chiropractic care.
This is actually a two-part article about what to do if you should experience vertigo or nausea after a chiropractic visit or if you are at your wit’s end with your persistent vertigo and are considering a chiropractic visit to see if it can help.
First, let’s discuss feelings of dizziness, nausea, or vertigo after chiropractic adjustments.
1) Is Vertigo After an Adjustment Normal?
For some people, yes, it is. While even experts cannot pinpoint the cause of all cases of vertigo, most doctors believe it can come from sudden body movements, such as car accidents or adjustments.
This can be confusing for those who are new to chiropractic and don’t know what to expect from chiropractic adjustments.
This is especially true for patients who are undergoing their first or second set of chiropractic adjustments. Many chiropractors believe these unpleasant feelings come from the release of pent-up tension.
If you have ever bent down to pick something up, then felt lightheaded or dizzy for a few moments when you stood back up, this is because your inner ear takes a few moments to readjust to the new position.
It’s thought the same mechanism goes on with chiropractic adjustments, especially those involving the head or neck.
Another explanation is that this results from toxic release. When the spine is put back into proper position, the body is free to release built-up toxins.
While that doesn’t sound good, it actually is! This means that the body is healing itself even though it demonstrates this through an annoying sensation.
Why Does This Happen?
Whether you’re seeing the chiropractor for hip pain or back pain, vertigo can still occur.
We’ve made this comparison before, but if you imagine your central nervous system as a garden hose and the faucet as the brain. The faucet is always on, but if the hose should get kinked, little or no water comes out, correct? The faucet (or brain) is always on and always has pressure, but you won’t get anything until you remove that kink in the hose.
Now picture that someone comes along and untwists the hose. You know what happens. All that build-up of pressure will come shooting out of the hose and if no one is holding on to it, the hose will even jerk or dance around like crazy until the pressure has been relieved and the normal flow of water is restored.
Feelings of nausea or vertigo are common after chiropractic neck manipulation or spinal manipulation.
Chiropractic adjustments are similar to unkinking the garden hose. What you are feeling is that release of pressure and it can sometimes involve vertigo and other side effects such as:
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Sweating or feeling too warm
- Night Sweats
- Runny nose or congestion
How common are these types of side effects? A study in 2004 found that a full 61% of patients experienced some type of dizziness, vertigo, headaches, fatigue, or nausea after their first chiropractic visit.
2) Another Secret – It doesn’t Last Forever
There is an unfounded rumor which says if you experience vertigo after an adjustment that you will feel dizzy and nauseous for years afterward, perhaps for the rest of your life.
Let us assure you that this is nothing more than a scare tactic and is not true.
Vertigo should be a temporary side effect that lasts less than 24 hours. If it should last more than 24 hours, or if these feelings intensify, call your chiropractor for a follow-up appointment.
3) Reduce Feelings of Dizziness or Vertigo After an Adjustment
You don’t have to “just live with it”. Some of the best things you can do to help combat this perception of unsteadiness include:
Drink plenty of water. This can help the body flush toxins, and rehydrate the body so it can heal as quickly as possible. Avoid energy drinks or caffeinated drinks.
Get plenty of rest. Your body requires rest to heal. This is not the time to party or do a strenuous exercise routine. Relax and let your body do the work of repairing itself.
Avoid sudden movements. Any quick movements, such as bending over suddenly or twisting to one side, can be shocking to your newly adjusted spine. Avoid lifting over 10 pounds and bend slowly, gently, during the next 48 hours.
Don’t be surprised to find that your body feels tired after vertigo passes. Many people report that they sleep for an extended period and wake to find that they feel better than ever. The body is an amazing machine that can repair itself if we give it what it asks for! Find out more ways to help combat your headache.
4) There is No Need for Concern. Minor Side Effects are Normal.
If you are worried about these types of side effects after a chiropractor cracks your back, don’t be.
There is no need to worry about the possible side effects of chiropractic care. There have been years of carefully conducted studies and hundreds of thousands of testimonials from real patients show that chiropractic care is safe and effective.
Almost all medical treatments can have minor side effects and chiropractic adjustment is no different. Side effects such as dizziness or vertigo are minor, temporary, and will pass quickly.
If You Are Currently Experiencing Vertigo
Chiropractic adjustments can help those who are currently having feelings of vertigo, nausea, or dizziness.
While there are two common types of vertigo, the one that is most prevalent is called BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Other types of vertigo stem from migraine-related issues and Meniere’s disease.
Sometimes, people experience dizziness and vertigo after car accidents or after a head injury. These can be due to a lesion on the brain, tumors, or nerve damage from a lesion. If your chiropractor suspects this might be the case, he will refer you to the appropriate medical specialist for treatment.
While a loss of balance in the elderly is to be expected, vertigo sometimes occurs after the first few chiropractic sessions. For most people, the most common cause of dizzy spells is due to inner ear imbalances. BPPV is often caused by a tiny build-up of calcium sediment in the fluid in the inner ear. This sediment forms minuscule rocks or crystals that scramble up the signals in the inner ear, leading to a lack of balance, vertigo, nausea, and dizziness.
Your Chiropractor Can Help with Vertigo
You might have been told that it is virtually impossible to treat BPPV, but this is not really true.
Every person’s body is different and responds to treatment differently, but chiropractors have been successfully treating continuing vertigo and dizziness symptoms for years.
Chiropractic adjustments allow the central nervous system to send and receive the proper signals to the ear, immune, vision, and lymph systems of the body. When there is full communication between the inner ear and the brain, improvements in balance will follow.
This is particularly true if vertigo occurred after an ear infection. Inflammation can remain even after antibiotics have cleared up the infection. The inner ear works on fluid and any damage, trauma, or inflammation can interfere with the signals the body needs to understand the movement.
The eyes also play a part in our orientation. When vision is compromised, balance can be affected. This is why people tend to sway when standing in place with their eyes closed.
5) The Epley Maneuver
After your chiropractor is certain that there are no obstructions or problems with vision, he can perform a routine called the Epley maneuver.
Our bodies identify all movement around us, including our own movement, through the vestibular system. This system keeps us balanced (and upright) so we can perform our everyday tasks. When the vestibular system malfunctions, it can cause a debilitating loss of balance, dizziness, and vertigo.
The Epley maneuver is a simple, non-invasive treatment where the patient moves and holds the head in certain positions for a determined period of time. This procedure uses gravity to allow the crystals in the inner ear to move or be forced from the fluid in the semicircular canals to another position within the ear canal.
Your chiropractor knows exactly how to do this maneuver and can determine if it was successful.
Success with this procedure depends on whether there are one or more crystals or if there are crystals in one or both ears and patient cooperation.
Some patients experience nausea while the procedure is being performed and find it difficult to stay in the proper position. If there is more than one crystal or if a new crystal finds its way to the semicircular canal or if both ears are affected, this maneuver might need to be repeated several times over a period of several days.
Your chiropractor can make certain that the head is held in the proper position and that the patient keeps the correct position for a sufficient amount of time so that the maneuver has the best chance of success.
Done correctly, the Epley maneuver is effective for over 90 percent of all patients.
With some training, your chiropractor can show you how to do the maneuver at home with the help of another person.
Research and other studies have found that there are no side effects or adverse reactions to this treatment method.
Your chiropractor can also offer advice on how to avoid dislodging these crystals so that vertigo or dizziness does not return.
A good video animation of how the Epley maneuver works can be seen here.
Your next question might be, “How many times should you go to the chiropractor?” We have the answer.
Since these small, stone-like crystals are made up of calcium, your chiropractor can offer helpful nutritional advice which can help to reduce the buildup of calcium crystals.
Natural diuretics, herbal supplements, such as dandelion, hawthorn, or juniper, can help to reduce these crystals, as well as consuming potassium-rich foods such as avocados, beans, bananas, and wheat germ.
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About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.