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Sixty Patients With Chronic Vertigo Undergoing Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care to Correct Vertebral Subluxation: A Retrospective Analysis

Erin L. Elster, D.C.


Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ November 8, 2006 ~ Pages 1-9


Objective:The objective of this article is threefold: to examine the role of head and neck trauma as a contributing factor to the onset of vertigo disorders; to explore the diagnosis and treatment of trauma-induced injury to the upper cervical spine through the use of protocol developed by the International Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (IUCCA); and to investigate the potential for improving and eliminating vertigo through the correction of trauma-induced upper cervical injury. Data from 60 chronic vertigo patients who recalled prior trauma, presented with upper cervical injuries, and received care according to the above protocol are reviewed.


Clinical Features: Each patient was examined and cared for in the author’s private practice in an uncontrolled, non-randomized environment over an eight-year period. The 60 patients were diagnosed by their physicians with the following types of chronic vertigo: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), cervicogenic, disembarkment syndrome, labyrinthitis, Meniere’s, and migraine-associated vertigo (MAV). Of the 60 vertigo patients, 56 recalled experiencing at least one head or neck trauma prior to the onset of vertigo including auto accidents (25 patients); sporting accidents, such as skiing, cycling, or horseback riding (sixteen patients); or falls on icy sidewalks or down stairs (six patients).


Intervention and Outcome: Two diagnostic tests, paraspinal digital infrared imaging and laser-aligned radiography, were performed according to IUCCA protocol. These tests objectively identify trauma-induced upper cervical subluxations (misalignments of the upper cervical spine from the neural canal) and resulting neuropathophysiology. Upper cervical subluxations were found in all 60 cases. All 60 patients responded to IUCCA upper cervical care within one to six months of treatment. Forty-eight patients were symptom-free following treatment and twelve cases were improved in that the severity and/or frequency of vertigo episodes were reduced.


Conclusion: A causal link between trauma-induced upper cervical injury and the onset of vertigo appears to exist. Correcting the injury to the upper cervical spine through the use of IUCCA protocol appears to improve and/or reverse vertigo disorders. Further study in a controlled, experimental environment with a larger sample size is recommended.


Key Indexing Terms: upper cervical spine, chiropractic, vertigo, trauma, thermography

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