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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov 15

J Vestib Res

The Bárány Society position on ‘Cervical Dizziness’.


Seemungal BM, Agrawal Y, Bisdorff A, Bronstein A, Cullen KE, Goadsby PJ, Lempert T, Kothari S, Lim P B, Magnusson M, Marcus HJ, Strupp M, Whitney SL
J Vestib Res. 2022 Nov 15.
PMID: 36404562.


This paper describes the Bárány Society Classification OverSight Committee (COSC) position on Cervical Dizziness sometimes referred to as Cervical Vertigo. This involved an initial review by a group of experts across a broad range of fields, and then subsequent review by the Bárány Society COSC. Based upon the so far published literature, the Bárány Society COSC takes the view that the evidence supporting a mechanistic link between an illusory sensation of self-motion (spinning or otherwise) and neck pathology and/or symptoms of neck pain – either by affecting the cervical vertebra, soft tissue structures or cervical nerve roots – is lacking. When a combined head and neck movement triggers an illusory sensation of spinning, there is either an underlying common vestibular condition such as migraine or BPPV or less commonly a central vestibular condition including, when acute in onset, dangerous conditions such as a dissection of the vertebral artery with posterior circulation stroke and, exceedingly rarely, a vertebral artery compression syndrome. The Committee notes however, that migraine, including vestibular migraine, is by far, the commonest cause for the combination of neck pain and vestibular symptoms. The committee notes that since head movement aggravates symptoms in almost any vestibular condition, the common finding of increased neck muscle tension in vestibular patients, may be linked as both cause and effect, to reduced head movements. Additionally, there are theoretical mechanisms, which have never been explored, whereby cervical pain may promote vaso-vagal, cardio-inhibitory reflexes and hence by presyncopal mechanisms, elicit   transient   disorientation and/or imbalance. The committee accepts that further research is required to answer the question as to whether those rare cases in which neck muscle spasm is associated with a vague sense of spatial disorientation and/or imbalance, is indeed linked to impaired neck proprioception. Future studies should ideally be placebo controlled and double-blinded where possible, with strict inclusion and exclusion criteria that aim for high specificity at the cost of sensitivity. To facilitate further studies in "cervical dizziness/vertigo", we provide a narrative view of the important confounds investigators should consider when designing controlled mechanistic and therapeutic studies. Hence, currently, the Bárány COSC, refrains from proposing any preliminary diagnostic criteria for clinical use outside a research study. This position may change as new research evidence is provided.