Published on May 28, 2013
The Correlation between Nausea and Chronic Pain
Chronic neck and back pain can trigger nausea because chronic pain causes a bombardment of pain signals to our brain. With this increased firing to our brains and increase in threshold, our nervous system becomes very heightened. This has been referred to as central sensitization.
(Learn about back pain and nausea)
The neck muscles and nerves are intertwined with our vestibular (hearing and position awareness) and ocular (eyesight and vision) senses which come together with input signals to our brain that convert into our perception. Our joints contain the most abundant number of proprioceptors, which tell our brain our sense of position. As a result, our sense of balance and stability can seem off when nausea strikes. Think of when you are in a car or a roller coaster and motion sickness takes over. Motion sickness results from altered disturbance between the visual and auditory system, which is similar to what occurs with individuals with chronic neck pain.
Chronic pain changes the signals to the brain causing our sense of balance and stability to become altered. Newer research also shows that the brain physically changes, known as central sensitization, from this bombardment. Neuroplasticity refers to the fact that the brain actually physically changes and is moldable. Thus, the brain changes as a result of chronic pain but it can be retrained and reeducated to help rid of pain.
How to Help Treat Chronic Nausea:
If you suffer from nausea, fatigue, vertigo and/or dizziness as result of your chronic neck pain it is imperative that you ensure your hearing and vision have also been checked to rule that out as a possible primary cause. Following clearance of those two systems, treatment should be directed to proper joint and muscles biomechanics in conjunction with movement retaining. Movement retraining should focus on stabilization and balance exercises to reeducate your brain on how to move. Motor retraining is essential as this will help regain proper movement patterns. Core stability of neck muscles and joints, as a result of joint and muscle biomechanics treatment, will help regain proper alignment and posture.