Neck pain, headaches, or ringing in the ears

Dizziness, varying intensity of pain, ringing in the ears, impaired coordination of movements, including loss of consciousness – symptoms that may be due to the same problem, namely compression of the vertebral arteries or a decrease in their flow due to stenosis (formation of plaques, most commonly).

Vertebral artery syndrome is not a standalone condition; it is a consequence of other diseases that can affect both the spine or the muscles and ligaments around it, as well as be a result of vascular pathology.

It can be observed in various pathologies where there is a narrowing of the lumen of one or both vertebral (spinal) arteries. As a result, blood supply to certain parts of the brain parenchyma is disrupted, leading to deterioration of their function, sometimes to critical conditions and stroke.

The two vertebral arteries pass through the cervical part of the spine and merge into the basilar artery after passing through the skull. The so-called vertebrobasilar basin is formed, which provides 15-30% of blood supply to the brain. This is why there are numerous symptoms when the arteries are affected.

Causes related to problems with the spine include spondylosis, myofascial syndrome, scoliosis, including spondylolisthesis. The vertebral arteries are most often compressed in the area of the 5-6 cervical vertebrae, as this is where changes such as osteochondrosis, protrusions, disc herniations, and spondylosis most commonly manifest.

Causes related to the artery itself should not be underestimated – thrombosis, aneurysm, vasculitis. Thrombosis is accompanied by hemoconcentration, while autoimmune vasculitis is associated with positive antinuclear antibodies, allowing for a faster and more accurate diagnosis based on which treatment begins.

Vertebral and anterior spinal artery compression syndrome should be distinguished from more serious circulatory disorders such as thrombosis or embolism. In these cases, symptoms do not pass as quickly and are not dependent on the position of the neck and head, unlike those related to the musculoskeletal system.

The initial stage of the condition is functional or dystonic – the emerging manifestations of circulatory disorders mainly consist of headaches with burning sensations, usually throbbing pain, dizziness, instability in walking, and visual disturbances in the form of darkening before the eyes.

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