Anxiety Support

Can neck strain/back of head inflammation cause BPPV or vertigo?

Hi there,

I was diagnosed with BPPV in June after having sudden brief and debilitating attacks of vertigo when I leaned my head to the right, looked down to put my wallet in my purse after buying coffee. Although I never noticed these symptoms in bed, when I was finally told to do the Epley, i did get it while lying down; realizing it was originating from my right ear. When the true spinning eventually stopped, I had and still do have a constant off balance feeling. Before this all started, I spent copious amounts of time at the computer and have tension at the back of my head. I still feel dizzy when I turn my head as if my perception is not aligned and it takes my body/brain a moment to catch up with itself.

Muscle testing with a naturopath determined it was coming from my sternocleidomastoid muscle and she gave me some supplements. I had a similar issue 6 years ago where I awoke and felt like a pendulum was swinging in my head - I had been looking down for many hours a day at the time and straining the back of my head.

I also get headaches deep in my left ear (even though BPPV was in the right ear) and this is rare for me. CT scan is normal. I also get ear fullness in the left ear in the morning sometimes and watery eyes.

Do you think this can be neck related and do you think neck inflammation can also cause BPPV?

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I had a similar experience in May when I woke up and the room was spinning (true vertigo). I slept upright for a week and did my own Epley (via You Tube) as I couldn't get an ENT or neuro appt. Spinning went after a few days but I've been left with some strange spaced out, lightheaded feelings which make me feel off balance at times. I haven't got an ENT appt until September at the dizziness clinic so not officially diagnosed. However, I also have residual odd sensations particularly in supermarkets, busy corridors, artificial lighting which I think is visual vertigo - 'supermarket syndrome' from what I can tell online.

Interestingly since March I've had bad neck problems. I use a computer all day and the way I sit at home I find watching tv causes neck stiffness. I'm pretty sure my neck is responsible for some of the balance issues as they are not noticeable when my neck is ok but as soon as it starts to tighten up I can feel like I'm sort of still moving a little when I turn my head or stand still. I'm seeing a physio for that. I also had quite bad tinnitus at the same time and again that improves to go away when my neck is better.

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This sounds exactly like me! Bppv may have been caused by lack of blow flow because of computer use

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Blood flow

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I don't know really. I know BPPV can just happen as I know people who've told me they had it but it went away after Epley mostly. I know it can need more than 1 Epley in some cases and have read it can have residual symptoms for a few months. I do think I have SCM tightness too especially with ear fullness that come and goes along with the spaced out feeling. Maybe if we have neck issues too it makes the BPPV related ones feel worse.

It is a horrible thing as you feel not quite right and it's hard to explain other than at times a bit like being slightly drunk. The issues I have in supermarkets were never there before and Nurse at GP said was it anxiety. It's not but it triggers anxiety type symptoms.

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I am so happy (not happy you are going through this) that you are experiencing something the same as me and can relate. 50% of BPPV cases have unknown causes. Before all this started, I had an upper respiratory illness for a few months which could have caused inflammation and the "ear rocks" to dislodge but any type of inflammation can cause this.

When you are straining your neck or SCM muscle there is a reduced flow of oxygen to the brain and ears. This oxygen deprivation can cause inflammation and stress in the body can lead to bazaar symptoms, even BPPV.

For me, there was also a bunch of emotional factors leading up to this including major stress, fatigue (no sleep with a baby and a four-year-old) and a lot on my plate.

Again, the stress of any kind causes inflammation. I mistook my BPPV for anxiety attacks so my brain went on 2.5 months with mixed signals from the ears. I think this is why it's taking longer for my to snap back. It does take months to recover just because the brain needs to readjust.

The supermarket thing is very normal. Have you tried vestibular rehab?

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I'm hoping when I get to ent they will suggest that. It's taken 3 months to get the appt. I also had two bad flu type viruses last November and in January where my sinuses were bad and I think that may have been a contributor. I also have a lot of stress as my mum died in October and I've been sorting her house out since then. I'm sure theses things all have an impact. I'm trying to keep up neck exercises and relaxation.

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There is always a strong correlation between life events/stress and BPPV.

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Also had to limit use of iPad as it makes me look down all the time and I find that makes me lightheaded too

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Yup me too. I was constantly and almost obsessively looking at my phone before this started.

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