Ross Hauser, MD
We define Cervicovagopathy as a condition of vagus nerve degeneration and/or the interruption and distortion of vagal nerve impulses and messages to the body. The primary cause in our view of cervicovagopathy is cervical spine ligament damage and weakness in turn causing cervical instability (ligamentous cervical instability) with or without cervical dysstructure (destruction of the normal structure of the cervical spine) leading to the harmful effects on the body outlined in the tables below.
Endocrinopathy or hormonal dysfunction impacted by cervical spine instability
- Menorrhagia (excessive and long-term menstrual bleeding).
- Male Menopause
- Decreased cortisol
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Addison’s disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Circadian rhythm dysfunction
- Melatonin deficiency
Immunodeficiency or immune system problems can even occur because the autonomic nervous system is involved with every tissue and cell of the human body. When you combine Immunodeficiency symptoms with a person who has cracking in the joint(s) with movement, tenderness where ligaments and tendons attach and other signs and symptoms of cervical spine instability, it may be assumed that many or all of the symptoms the person has is from the cervical spine instability causing dysautonomia.
Cervicovagopathy and Digestive disorders
The vagus nerve innervates almost every part of the digestive tract including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, along with the heart, lungs, and spleen. Low HRV and sympathovagal imbalance is seen with almost every digestive disorder, including functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, dysmotility disorders, gastroparesis, gluten sensitivity, and gastroesophageal reflux. Diarrhea, constipation, early satiety, swallowing difficulties, decreased or increased salivation, gastroparesis, fainting during toileting activities, dysfunctional gastric or intestinal motility, excessive gas, vomiting and extreme nausea can signify gastrointestinal manifestations of autonomic dysfunction caused by CVG. Most of the issues stem from an increased intestinal permeabilty or gastrointestinal dysmotility.
Symptoms of Cervicovagopathy Dysautonomia
Dysautonomia is a dysfunction of the nerves that regulate the involuntary functions of the body. Vagus nerve degeneration can be so serious that widespread arterial vasospasm in the body can occur. (Vasospasm is the sudden narrowing or compression within of an artery.) This causes constriction and reduced blood flow). Everything that happens in the body involuntarily, including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary (urinary/bladder and reproduction), ocular, respiratory, thermoregulatory, vasomotor homeostatic functions (related to heart and circulatory function) and a host of other involuntary reflexes can be affected with vagus nerve degeneration.
The parasympathetic nervous system, led by the vagus nerve, helps the body rest, digest, and ultimately repair, without which the body goes into disrepair. The sympathetic and parasympathetic are in a finely tuned interplay. When sympathetic dominance occurs over a long period of time, characteristics signs and symptoms occur.
The hallmark feature of dysautonomia is dysfunction of the vagus nerve.
The most common symptoms of vagus nerve dysfunction (CVG, dysautonomia) include chronic pain, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, spinning or pulling sensation (in a particular direction), weight loss, poor focusing, exercise intolerance, emotional lability, inflammation, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, tinnitus, headache, anxiety, depression, brain fog, swallowing difficulty, vision changes, and inability to handle stress well.
One clue that there is a neck cause to a person’s dysautonomia is when turning of the head or facial movements such as laughing, chewing or speaking cause what we term ‘episymptoms’, which are symptoms that are manifested by activities that don’t normally cause those symptoms, such as flushing, sweating, temperature dysregulation, headaches, vision changes, electric shocks, palpitations, tachycardia or other autonomic symptoms. Signs include changes in blood pressure, impaired thermoregulation, fatigue, changes in mental state (such as increase in stress or lightheadedness), dilated pupils, uvula deviation to one side, an inability of the palate to raise normally, decreased gag reflex, and dilated pupils. Many of these are signs of vagopathy.
Dysautonomia, as is lower cervical instability, is a progressive disorder. As vagal nerve function struggles, the ANS’s ability to regulate the body gets more compromised. Eventually, when it can no longer maintain blood pressure, orthostasis occurs and ultimately multisystem atrophy that can include all the internal organs, in what is termed “pure autonomic failure,” When person with lower cervical instability experiences symptoms that suddenly occur or increased in severity, it is often because there is starting to be autonomic collapse.