By: Dr. Demian, BKin, DC
We tend to take balance or “proprioception” (the ability to feel where you are in space) for granted until we teeter. Your sense of balance depends on the combined input from the various parts of your sensory system. These include your: eyes, which help you determine where your body is in space and how it’s moving, your sensory nerves, which send messages to your brain about body movements and positions, and your inner ear, which houses sensors that help detect gravity and back-and-forth motion. This balance system is also known as the vestibular system.
In the inner ear, the balance system consists of three semicircular canals that contain fluid and “sensors” that detect rotational movement of the head. When the head moves up-and-down, side-to-side, and tilts from one side to the other, the fluid is moved through a specific canal triggering sensitive hair fibres that send nerve impulses back to the brain, which is what helps us to know where we are in space or if we are moving.
Vertigo is the false sense that your surroundings are spinning or moving. With inner ear disorders, your brain receives signals from the inner ear that aren’t consistent with what your eyes, sensory nerves and inner ear are receiving. Vertigo is what results as your brain works to sort out the confusion.
With the resultant brain fog, nausea, vomiting, sweating and/or unsteadiness or loss of balance, vertigo is not only destabilizing, it’s debilitating.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. BPPV occurs when calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia, or crystals) from the inner ear are dislodged and migrate into a semicircular canal, where they are not supposed to be. This causes the inner ear to send false signals to the brain, leading to excessive stimulation and the perception that you are falling in that direction.
Often, patients suffering from long-standing balance issues haven’t been tested or treated for BPPV. P3 Health practitioners can identify the affected canal and administer a series of specific repositioning maneuvers that work to recalibrate this sensitive, yet critical system. And, in the case of underlying pathology, patients are referred out for appropriate imaging and/or further testing.
ABOUT DR. Demian: Dr. Demian is a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine and Functional Neurology Practitioner who focuses primarily on neurological rehabilitation and increasing human function.Leave a reply →