Can neck pain cause dizziness?

Muscular-balance-of-head-and-neck-M-masseter-muscle-E-neck-extensors-muscle-SCM.png

Symptoms of dizziness or imbalance are often present in individuals with a variety of neck-disorders.

Dizziness and imbalance may originate from altered proprioceptive signals from the cervical spine due to trauma, fatigue and pain. Considering there is an abundance of proprioceptive receptors in the neck, which are located in the joints, ligaments, and deep cervical neck muscles.

Dizziness has been shown to be prevalent in 50% of individuals with cervical spondylosis (arthritis) and with individuals who have suffered some type of neck trauma (such as concussion or whiplash), this percentage can be over 80%.

Cervical proprioception contributes to the perception of head motion and converges with vestibular and visual information for spatial orientation and balance. Therefore, if cervical proprioception is altered, it is feasible that unsteadiness, lightheadiness or dizziness can be from the neck.

It is pertinent that a differential diagnosis is performed by the treating clinician as there are many causes of dizziness, which could be from more dangerous reasons, such as instability, vascular and myelopathy.

If you are having dizziness with head movements or even change positions, the cause could be from the neck.

We recommend consulting with your physical therapist or physician to determine if an evaluation is right for you.


Dr. Harrison and Danielle Vaughan teach other professionals across the country on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Cervicogenic Dizziness. Our unique approach of combining manual therapy and vestibular rehabilitation helps patients who have dizziness and pain.