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Neck Pain and Dizziness

There are lots of different conditions that can cause you to get dizzy, but it so happens that your neck can be a major contributor.

Generally what you’re looking for is your neck pain and your dizziness to come on and go away together. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If your neck joints aren’t moving well together, the signals they send back to your brain can get scrambled and the brain cannot make sense of what is happening. Therefore, a brief short-circuit will occur within the brain, and a dizziness episode will occur. It doesn’t even have to involve a ‘sore neck’ – it can just be a movement issue that affects your wiring.

The good news is that this particular condition (known as neck-based or cervicogenic dizziness) can be treated. Your physio will look at the way your neck and back move and will look for areas of stiffness or potentially where there’s too much movement (hypermobility). 

Using hands-on techniques – working on your muscles, joints, nerves and ligaments – your physio will help start to improve the scrambled signals that are going back to your brain. Usually, you’ll see the physio a few times a week for the first 2-3 weeks, spacing things out further as your symptoms are reducing. Combined with exercises to help out things like posture, neck and shoulder muscle activation and specific balance work, you’ll tend to be back to 100% by around the 6-8 week mark. Most of the time it takes this long to get everything to reset and functioning smoothly, but usually, this is a comparatively cheap and drug-free option that is a long term solution and stops the issue from coming back. 

Sometimes your dizziness and your neck pain can be unrelated. You can have a sore stiff neck, but the eyes or inner ear are the culprits, and they’re the ones sending the scrambled signals back to the brain. Physiotherapists are again best placed to figure out which area is causing the dizziness and can help relieve your fear or anxiety around your dizziness.

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