Do you find you can stay more focused and understand information better if you tilt your head to one side? Or perhaps you think you’re holding your head straight until a photographer asks you to straighten it.
A persistent head tilt can be a sign of a brain imbalances that needs addressing, even if you don’t have other symptoms. These brain imbalances may manifest as more serious problems down the road. By addressing what is causing your head tilt early, you can improve brain performance and prevent future problems.
What a head tilt says about your brain
Your brain, eyes, inner ear (vestibular) system, and body all work together to tell you where you are in relation to your environment.
Your eyes tell your brain where you are in the environment. Your vestibular system coordinates this information with any movements happening Information from the joints, nerves, and muscles provide feedback about what your body is doing.
Constantly tilting your head to one sign means there is a deviation within these pathways causing your brain to think your head is straight when it’s not. Or you may feel your brain simply works better if you keep your head constantly tilted to one side.
Common causes of head tilt
Perhaps this happened due to a head injury or whiplash earlier in life, two things notorious for causing lasting damage to the vestibular system and brain.
Or dysfunction can arise from brain developmental issues that started in childhood, such as the left hemisphere developing too quickly compared to the right — a common problem these days.
Factors that cause brain inflammation can also affect function of the brain and vestibular system. Sources of brain inflammation include infection, undiagnosed food intolerances (most common are gluten and dairy), leaky gut, and blood sugar and hormonal imbalances.
More severe causes of head tilt
Head tilts can also be caused by structural problems in the neck and spine.
They can also be related to more advanced conditions such as dystonia, a disorder that causes muscles to contract involuntarily.
Other symptom of dystonia may include dragging one leg, foot cramping, uncontrollable blinking, and difficulty talking.
Dystonias arise from problems in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia that helps regulate muscle contractions and movement. Basal ganglia disorders are not uncommon and include other conditions such as restless leg syndrome, tics, anxiety, tremors, cramping, muscle rigidity, and more.
Head tilt and imbalances in visual processing
A chronic head tilt can also arise due to how the eyes process visual information. If vision from one eye is being interpreted as coming in lower or higher than the other eye, the brain will compensate by tilting the head to make vision appear more equal.
How well your eyes can pursue a target moving both smoothly or in small jumps in various directions informs the functional neurologist as to how your brain is working. For instance, a poorly functioning cerebellum, the area of the brain that plays a role in balance and motor coordination, causes poor function with visual tracking that can lead to a head tilt.
Also, if certain eye muscles are weak, exercises to strengthen those can help correct head tilt.
This is very general overview of a complex topic, but the bottom line is if you have a head tilt a functional neurology approach can help improve your brain function.