How Neuroplasticity Can Help You Recover from Persistent Vertigo
Persistent Vertigo is more than just feeling dizzy or light-headed. It’s a symptom of a vestibular balance disorder that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning and moving. It might cause you to feel like you’re tilted, rocking, unbalanced, or unsteady—almost as if you’re on a boat or just spun in circles for a minute.
At best, these symptoms come as a brief shock, lasting only a few seconds or minutes. At worst, vertigo is persistent, lasting days or months at a time. In chronic cases, vertigo can rob a person of their quality of life.
Thankfully, many cases of persistent vertigo can be resolved using the principles of neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and develop new neural connections. Before we dive into exploring why neuroplasticity is an important part of recovering from vertigo, let’s discuss some fundamentals of vertigo.
Getting diagnosed with persistent vertigo
If you’re experiencing persistent vertigo, it’s important to get evaluated by a doctor to rule out any medical issues that need attention. That being said, most persistent vertigo sufferers have seen every specialist, had every test ordered, and seemingly tried every diet and supplement on the planet, yet still don’t have concrete answers as to why they’re experiencing these symptoms and how they can recover.
Some patients may get a diagnosis, such as vestibular migraine, Meniere’s disease, mal de debarquement, vestibular labyrinthitis, persistent postural perceptual dizziness (PPPD), or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Many times, however, these diagnoses are just fancy words for “there’s something wrong with your vestibular system, but we’re not exactly sure what.”
The vestibular system is a sensory system composed of several structures mostly in the inner ear. It’s responsible for providing the brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation.
Vertigo sufferers are typically told that there is no known treatment for their symptoms and that they have to learn how to live with and manage the condition.
What causes persistent vertigo?
While doctors are good at putting a label on people’s symptoms, most don’t know the root cause of vertigo or how to help their patients recover. This is no fault of doctors, as most are not trained in neuroplasticity. Additionally, research surrounding using neuroplasticity to heal certain chronic conditions is really just starting to make its way into mainstream medicine.
So, what exactly is the root cause of persistent vertigo? It’s often the result of an impairment in a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system is a set of structures in the brain that help people detect and respond to threats to their safety. When the limbic system becomes overstimulated due to stress or trauma, it can become chronically activated, leading to a number of symptoms and conditions, including vertigo.
The trauma that leads to a limbic system impairment can be either physical or mental and usually includes a “perfect storm” of stressful events. Some common forms of trauma include contracting a virus, going through a very emotional event, getting in an accident, or experiencing chronic stress at home or work.
Then, each time the sufferer experiences symptoms of vertigo, neurons send an alarm message that things aren’t “quite right.” This further triggers the stress response, which then creates more vertigo symptoms. Ultimately, sufferers get stuck in a chronic cycle of anxiety-vertigo-anxiety—looped on repeat.
It’s important to note that even in rare cases where vertigo is caused by permanent damage to a part of the inner ear, say from a physical trauma or a virus, neuroplasticity may allow sufferers to build new, vertigo-free neural pathways that compensate for the damaged areas.
How can neuroplasticity be harnessed to recover from persistent vertigo?
If you’re struggling with persistent vertigo, your brain essentially needs a “software update.” This doesn’t mean your brain is “broken”—it just means that you need to recalibrate your limbic system to restore its normal function and break the chronic loop you’re stuck in. This reorganization process is called neuroplasticity and entails creating new neural pathways in your brain in a systematic way.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you actually accomplish that. That’s where re-origin comes in, a neuroplasticity-based treatment program that addresses a number of chronic conditions, including vertigo.
re-origin involves applying an easy-to-follow, five-step neurocognitive technique to calm the overactive stress response and create new, functional neural pathways in the brain. A big part of the recovery process is learning how to understand and react to your symptoms and thoughts about your symptoms, which ultimately breaks the maladaptive cycle. You can learn more about our neuroplasticity program.
Once you’ve retrained your hyperactive, traumatized limbic system and restored normal signaling between your brain and vestibular system, the symptoms of vertigo will naturally fall away, as if they were never there.
The bottom line
Dealing with vertigo can feel lonely and defeating. The neural messages being sent between the brain and body don’t match the world around you, and that’s a really scary experience.
Thankfully, many people are recovering from persistent vertigo with the help of neuroplasticity and programs like re-origin. With persistence, patience, dedication, and time, you can repair your impaired limbic system and retrain your brain and body to feel confident, calm, and steady.