Tight Neck Muscles and Vertigo: Can They Cause Dizziness and Nausea?

can tight muscles cause vertigo

Our health is of paramount importance in our lives. In the hustle and bustle of our busy world, falling ill is a luxury we can hardly afford. As such, we often resort to taking supplements and vitamins to ensure our bodies receive the required nutrients to stay fit and healthy. 

However, amidst the stress from work and daily life, it’s crucial to pay attention to even the slightest discomfort or pain in our bodies. Something as seemingly trivial as muscle pain could potentially be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Have you ever experienced tightness in your neck, followed by dizziness and nausea? If yes, this article is for you.

Can Tight Neck Muscles Cause Dizziness and Nausea?

When you feel tightness in your neck, accompanied by dizziness and nausea, it may be easy to dismiss these symptoms as the result of stress or fatigue. On the other hand, these symptoms may occasionally point to a medical issue that needs to be addressed. One such condition that can cause these symptoms is vertigo.

How Tight Neck Muscles Can Lead to Vertigo

Vertigo, a feeling of being off balance that is often described as a spinning sensation, can be caused by a variety of factors. One such condition is the tightening of neck muscles. When neck muscles become overly tense, they can disrupt the signals sent to your brain about your body’s position, which can lead to feelings of dizziness or vertigo.

Because of their close relationship to the vestibular system, which is in charge of preserving your body’s balance, tense neck muscles can contribute to this disturbance. The vestibular system relies on various sensory inputs, including inputs from the neck muscles, to determine the position of your body. When these muscles are overly tense, the sensory input they provide can be skewed, leading to feelings of vertigo.

There are various kinds of vertigo, such as cervicogenic vertigo, central vertigo, and peripheral vertigo. Cervicogenic vertigo is often associated with neck problems and could be the type of vertigo causing your symptoms of neck tension, dizziness, and nausea.

What is Cervicogenic Vertigo? Symptoms and Causes

Cervicogenic vertigo is a condition characterized by dizziness that is associated with certain neck movements or positions. Unlike other types of vertigo that originate from problems in the inner ear or brain, cervicogenic vertigo is believed to be caused by issues in the cervical spine (the part of the spine located in the neck).


The primary symptom of cervicogenic vertigo is dizziness, particularly following changes in neck position or movement. Many people who experience this dizziness report feeling unsteady or spinning in their shoes. It may persist for a few minutes to several hours and vary in severity from mild to severe.

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms may include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, blurred vision or difficulty focusing, a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears, and impaired coordination or balance. In addition, some people may have nausea or vomiting, especially if their dizziness is very bad.


Cervicogenic vertigo is thought to result from disturbances in the neck’s proprioceptive system, which sends signals to the brain about the position of the head and body. Conditions that affect the neck, such as extreme head trauma, cervical arthritis, herniated cervical discs, or muscle atrophy in the upper cervical spine, can interfere with these signals and lead to feelings of vertigo.

Moreover, abnormalities in the anatomical and functional properties of the suboccipital muscles (found at the base of the skull) may cause vertigo. Particularly, myodural bridges and activation of trigger points in these muscles have been linked to sensations of dizziness.

Managing Cervicogenic Vertigo: Lifestyle Changes and Prevention

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cervicogenic vertigo or just beginning to notice some of its telltale signs, understanding these lifestyle modifications could be a valuable step towards managing your symptoms and enhancing your overall wellbeing.

Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity, particularly exercises that target the neck and upper body, can help improve muscle strength and flexibility. This can reduce the likelihood of developing problems in the neck that could lead to cervicogenic vertigo. Yoga and Pilates are two examples of activities that can enhance posture and promote overall body balance.

Proper Posture

Sustaining good posture can help avoid undue strain on the neck muscles, particularly when using digital devices or sitting for extended periods of time. It’s also important to adjust your sleeping position to ensure your neck isn’t twisted or bent in awkward positions.

Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks can help prevent muscle tension and stiffness if your job requires you to stand still for extended periods of time. Simple neck stretches and motions can help preserve flexibility and avoid straining muscles during these breaks.

Stress Management

Tension in the muscles, especially the neck, can result from high levels of stress. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help manage stress levels and may potentially reduce the occurrence of vertigo symptoms.

Medical Intervention

Aside from lifestyle changes, medical intervention plays a pivotal role in managing cervicogenic vertigo. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause, different types of medication may be prescribed by healthcare professionals.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Neck inflammation may be reduced with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). By reducing swelling, these medications can help restore normal function to the proprioceptive system and thereby alleviate the dizziness associated with cervicogenic vertigo.

Muscle Relaxants

In cases where muscle tension in the neck is contributing to vertigo, muscle relaxants may be prescribed. These medications can help relieve muscle stiffness and reduce pain, enabling better mobility and potentially reducing vertigo symptoms.

Antivertigo Medications

Medications specifically designed to manage vertigo may also be used. These include drugs like meclizine, which can help control the spinning sensation and other symptoms associated with vertigo. However, these drugs are not a long-term fix; rather, they are usually taken to provide temporary relief.


Certain antidepressant classes, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been found to be useful in treating vertigo symptoms in specific situations. These drugs can help control brain chemistry abnormalities that may be causing dizziness.

It is crucial to understand that although medicine can ease symptoms, it does not treat the underlying cause of cervicogenic vertigo. For this reason, it is essential to collaborate with a healthcare provider to create a thorough treatment plan that incorporates both medication and lifestyle changes.

Tackling Dizziness and Nausea Caused by Tight Neck Muscles

In conclusion, tight neck muscles can indeed be a root cause of dizziness and nausea, often manifesting as cervicogenic vertigo. The interplay between our muscular and nervous systems in the neck region is intricate, and any disruption can lead to disconcerting symptoms that impact our daily lives.

However, understanding this connection provides us with valuable strategies to alleviate these symptoms. Regular exercise, maintaining proper posture, taking frequent breaks, managing stress effectively, and timely medical intervention are all crucial components of a comprehensive health plan.

It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that every person’s circumstances are different. What suits one person might not suit another. Thus, a responsible and well-supported health plan should be tailored to the individual, considering their lifestyle, particular symptoms, and general health.

Working closely with healthcare professionals can help create a tailored approach that addresses the root causes and manages the symptoms effectively. It’s about more than just symptom relief; it’s about regaining balance and control over your life.

Always remember, your health is your wealth. Make it a priority to seek professional advice if you’re experiencing dizziness and nausea due to tight neck muscles. With the right support and a responsible health plan, you can navigate your way towards a future free from vertigo’s disorienting grip.

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