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What are the Most Common Causes of Neck Pain and Dizziness?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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There are several different causes of neck pain and dizziness, including headaches, whiplash, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), infections, and neck arthritis. The most common cause of these symptoms is cervical vertigo. Any type of neck injury may result in these symptoms as well.

Cervical vertigo is caused by problems in the neck, such as a limited range of motion or poor posture. A medical professional may be able to fix the problem with a person’s neck, and this will eliminate the dizziness. Neck arthritis may also cause pain and dizziness if it is severe enough. Severe arthritis in the neck may block the amount of blood that goes to brain, causing these symptoms.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is a disorder of the inner ear. In this condition, tiny crystals float around in the liquid in a person’s ear; they can be caused by trauma or some unknown condition. The crystals generally go away on their own after a couple of weeks, and the person will stop experiencing dizziness without any treatment at all.

Neck injuries and whiplash can be caused by auto accidents and other types of trauma. Neck injuries often cause pain and dizziness, which may be more severe if the injured person also has inner ear problems. Another reason for dizziness that occurs with neck pain is stress on the body. Sitting for a long time, lifting, and dragging objects can all cause pain in a person’s neck, which may cause dizziness.

The severity of the neck pain and dizziness will vary, depending on the cause of these symptoms. Some people may experience only mild pain and short bouts of dizziness, while others may become debilitated because of the severe nature of the pain. With some problems, the symptoms will be brief, but with others, they may last for a long time.

Treatment is often based solely on the problems in the neck and may include medications, mobilization, exercise, or physical therapy. A medical professional may also instruct the injured person on correct posture and how to prevent certain injuries to the neck. Chiropractic services may also be used by people who are not able to get relief through other kinds of treatment.

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Discussion Comments

By everetra — On Dec 17, 2011

@hamje32 - I think if you want to avoid cervical vertigo you should take plenty of breaks.

I would recommend a break once an hour, perhaps for five minutes, where you move your neck around a range of motion and softly apply pressure to where you feel the pain.

You want to avoid having your muscles getting clumped up, which is what causes the pain from what I understand, and can lead to things like pinched nerves.

By hamje32 — On Dec 16, 2011

I used to get severe neck pain from sitting in front of a computer for several hours. It felt like whiplash, actually, making it difficult to turn my head all the way.

As part of my neck pain treatment I would apply strong massage to my neck but realized that I needed to treat the cause and not just the symptom. So I checked my posture.

I found that if I rested my forearms on my desk and scooted my chair in closer to the computer, I didn’t have as much stress. I don’t know if this is the orthodox recommendation for proper ergonomic posture.

Frankly, the usual diagrams where they show your arms slightly elevated and parallel to the keyboard don’t work for me. That elevation actually strains my arms and my neck. Resting them on the desk helps, at least for me.

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