Cervicogenic Dizziness

August 13th, 2019
Cervicogenic Dizziness

What is cervicogenic dizziness?

Meynard Enriquez DPT, Ross Fargnoli DPT OCS, Ray Lunasin DPT OCS,
Mark Lundblad DPT OCS, Shane O’Malley DPT OCS

When episodes of dizziness are arising from dysfunction of the neck, this condition is referred to as cervicogenic dizziness (CGD). This type of dizziness is often accompanied by neck pain or recent trauma to the neck, such as whip-lash injuries following motor vehicle collisions. Dizziness must be closely related to changes in neck position or movement of the neck for CGD to be considered as a potential diagnosis. 

Dizziness is a common symptom that can result from a number of different causes, including disturbances of the ear, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV). The incidence of CGD has been reported to be 7.5% of all dizziness. If all other causes have been ruled out, CGD may be the appropriate diagnosis by exclusion.   Sometimes, CGD can occur simultaneously with other sources of dizziness. It is important to get a thorough evaluation to explore all possible causes of dizziness.

Dizziness related to the neck is often described as light-headedness, imbalance, giddiness, or unsteadiness. This can be a concerning symptom that may lead to additional problems, such as physical injuries from falling, psychological issues including depression and anxiety, employment difficulties, and inability to perform daily activities. 

In most cases, cervicogenic dizziness can be managed with an individualized intervention program that includes the neck’s range of motion, stabilization exercises, proprioceptive training, and manual physical therapy. It is important to seek guidance from a licensed physical therapist who is trained to properly diagnosis and treat cervicogenic dizziness.

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  2. Reid SA, Rivett DA. Manual therapy treatment of cervicogenic dizziness: a systematic review. Man Ther. 2005 Feb;10(1):4-13. Review.
  3. Yaseen K, Hendrick P, Ismail A, Felemban M, Alshehri MA. The effectiveness of manual therapy in treating cervicogenic dizziness: a systematic review. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Jan;30(1):96-102.