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.
Gilbert, John W Vogt, Manuel Windsor, Robert E Mick, Gregory E Richardson, Gay B Storey, Benjamin B Herder, Stephanie L Ledford, Susan Abrams, Dee A Theobald, Mary Katherine Cunningham, Dana Kelly, Louise Herring, Kimberly V Maddox, Michael L eng Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 Mar;114(3):172-8. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.034.