Meniere’s disease and neck injury: Is there a connection?
If you are currently living with Meniere’s disease, you are familiar with the classic symptoms of vertigo attacks, hearing loss, ear pressure and tinnitus. These symptoms can be unrelenting and severe, rendering a person unable to work, attend school or function normally during their attacks.
While the exact cause is unknown, many Meniere’s patients report a precipitating event – an incident of physical trauma directed at the head and neck. In fact, medical researchers increasingly are naming head and neck trauma as an underlying cause of Meniere’s onset; however, the onset of symptoms may be delayed for several months or years after trauma. In fact, many patients are diagnosed with Meniere’s in middle age, but their injury occurred many years prior in high school or college.
Common sources of trauma include blows to the head, whiplash and/or concussion sustained as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and through high-impact sports such as surfing, soccer, gymnastics and horseback riding. Any of the above may cause ligaments supporting the head and neck to be sprained (stretched,) which forces the upper cervical (neck) vertebrae out of their normal biomechanical position.
This misalignment of the head and upper neck vertebrae may “pinch” the connection between the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the interruption of nerve impulses. In addition, researchers believe the neck misalignment may compromise normal function of the inner ear and Eustachian tube. All of the above may be contributing factors to the onset of Meniere’s symptoms over time.
A chiropractic technique that focuses upon the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae – known as upper cervical care – provides a unique approach for treatment of Meniere’s patients. Upper cervical chiropractic care utilizes two diagnostic tools – thermal imaging and digital X-rays – to accurately assess an upper cervical injury. After determining a diagnosis of cervical injury, each patient’s injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially designed knee chest table.
While treatment response time varies and depends upon the severity and chronicity of symptoms, many patients notice improvement in Meniere’s symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has maintained a private practice on Maui for the past four years. For more information on Dr. Elster’s research with vertigo patients or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.