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To schedule an appointment with Dr. Adam Harcourt, call 805-962-1988.
Once your medical doctor has ruled out more serious conditions (such as vestibular neuronitis, labyrinthitis or fistulas), your dizziness/vertigo could be caused by the cerebellum or brain stem. There is something going on functionally with the way the brain interprets where you are in space. Dr. Harcourt will evaluate this and employ appropriate treatments.
In many cases, the area of dysfunction in the nervous system is the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls our coordinated movements.
There are specific neurological tests that we utilize to determine cerebellar function. For instance, Romberg's, finger-to-nose and rapid alternating movement tests. These tests, and others, are used to determine the function of the cerebellum. Our goal is to use those tests to find out what we need to do to correct those symptoms.
The dysfunction could also be in the brain stem and/or vestibular system. Dr. Harcourt will determine this at your initial examination appointment.
The brain stem is the integration point between the vestibular system and cerebellum. It controls many things, including heart rate, blood pressure, postural muscles, helps coordinate eye movements and intrinsic spinal muscles.
The vestibular system is a series of little canals in your ear that tell your brain when your head moves.
The cerebellum and brain stem work together to adapt to over-activation or under-activation by the vestibular system.
For instance, in Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), the little crystals (also referred to as "rocks" or "debris") in the ears, overstimulate the canals of the vestibular system, so it thinks you're moving when you're not moving. Therefore, your brain stem and cerebellum have to adapt their function, so you don't feel like you are constantly dizzy. This is why you know you're not spinning, even though you feel like you are. Your eyes can see that you are stationary, but your vestibular system is telling your brain that you're spinning. This improper communication to the brain is what Dr. Harcourt evaluates and treats.
BPPV is a very common form of vertigo. It is most commonly found in the posterior canals, and can be helped with things like the Epley Maneuver. However, you can also get BPPV in the horizontal or anterior canals, which can cause similar symptoms. Dr. Harcourt will test for which canal is affected and can help using other maneuvers specific to the canals affected.
For example, you may feel like you are constantly moving to the right, but you're not. Therefore, the cerebellum has to downplay how much it uses the input coming from the vestibular system. This overstimulation changes the way your brain works, and can cause chronic neck tightness, dizziness, balance issues, improper coordination, headaches, nausea, etc. If the cerebellum didn't make those adaptations, it would take years to recover, if ever. So the quicker you get dizziness/vertigo treated, the less adaptation takes place in the cerebellum. Therefore, the easier dizziness/vertigo is to correct.
Treatments may include Vestibular Rehabilitation, Repositioning Maneuvers, Adjustments and/or Eye Exercises.
To see if you are a candidate for the Imagine X Dizziness/Vertigo Program, please complete this Dizziness/Vertigo Qualification Questionnaire.