John W. Gilbert, Manuel Vogt, Robert E. Windsor, Gregory E. Mick, Gay B. Richardson, Benjamin B. Storey, Stephanie L. Herder, Susan Ledford, Dee A. Abrams, Mary Katherine Theobald, Dana Cunningham, Louise Kelly, Kimberly V. Herring, Michael L. Maddox. Vestibular Dysfunction in Patients With Chronic Pain or Underlying Neurologic Disorders. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2014;114(3):172–178. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.034.
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Context: Individuals with vestibular dysfunction are at increased risk for falling. In addition, vestibular dysfunction is associated with chronic pain, which could present a serious public health concern as approximately 43% of US adults have chronic pain.
Objective: To assess the incidence of vestibular dysfunction in patients receiving medication for chronic, noncancer pain or other underlying neurologic disorders and to determine associated follow-up therapeutic and diagnostic recommendations.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective medical record review of consecutive patients who were treated in their private neuroscience practice with medications for chronic pain or underlying neurologic disorders in 2011. All patients underwent a series of tests using videonystagmography for the assessment of vestibular function. Test results and recommendations for therapy and additional testing were obtained.
Results: Medical records of 124 patients (78 women, 46 men) were reviewed. Vestibular deficits were detected in 83 patients (66.9%). Patient ages ranged from 29 through 72 years, with a mean age of 50.7 years for women and 52.5 years for men. Physician-recommended therapy and follow-up testing were as follows: 32 patients (38.6%), neurologic examination and possible magnetic resonance (MR) imaging or computed tomography (CT) of the brain; 26 patients (31.3%), vestibular rehabilitation therapy only; 22 patients (26.5%), vestibular and related balance-function rehabilitation therapy, further neurologic examination, and possible MR imaging or CT; 2 patients (2.4%), balance-function rehabilitation therapy and specialized internal auditory canal high-magnification MR imaging or CT to assess for acoustic neuroma; and 1 patient (1.2%), specialized internal auditory canal high-magnification MR imaging or CT to evaluate for possible intracanalicular acoustic neuroma.
Conclusion: Patients being treated with medications for chronic, noncancer pain or other underlying neurologic disorders may have a higher-than-average incidence of vestibular dysfunction. Baseline assessment and monitoring of the vestibular apparatus may be indicated for these patients.
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