Purpose: To explore musculoskeletal findings in patients with cervicogenic dizziness and how these findings relate to pain and dizziness. To study treatment effects and long-term symptom progress.
Method: Twenty-two patients (20 women, 2 men; mean age 37 years) with suspected cervicogenic dizziness underwent a structured physical examination before and after physiotherapy guided by the musculoskeletal findings. Questionnaires were sent to the patients six months and two years after treatment.
Results: Dorsal neck muscle tenderness and tightness was found in a majority of the patients. Zygapophyseal joint tenderness was found at all cervical levels. Cervical range of motion was equal to or larger than expected age and gender matched values. The cervico-thoracic region was often hypomobile. Most patients had postural imbalance. Dynamic stabilization capacity was reduced. Suboccipital muscles tightness correlated with posture imbalance and poor neck stability. The treatment resulted in reduced tenderness in levator scapula, high and middle paraspinal and temporalis muscles and zygapophyseal joints at C4-C7 and increased cervico-thoracic mobility. Reduction of middle paraspinal muscle tenderness correlated with neck pain relief. Postural alignment improved, as did dynamic stabilization in trunk, neck and shoulders. After 6 months, 13 of the 17 patients had still no or less neck pain and 14 had no or less dizziness. After 2 years, 7 patients had no or less neck pain and 11 no or less dizziness.
Conclusion: Patients with suspected cervicogenic dizziness have some musculoskeletal findings in common. Treatment based on these findings reduces neck pain as well as dizziness long-term but some patients might need a maintenance strategy.