Vagus Nerve Entrapment Causing Atrial Fibrillation with Tachycardia – Case Study

My theory: I have a Vagus Nerve Entrapment Causing Atrial Fibrillation with Tachycardia due to the reverse curve of my neck.


I occasionally get A-fib with tachycardia – an irregular heartbeat with an increased heart rate. I believe these episodes are caused by a Vagus nerve entrapment. I started having episodes in my mid to late twenties. The medical diagnosis was that it was caused by a hyperactive thyroid. At the time, my entire metabolism was haywire. I was burning over 5000 calories a day at rest, not including exercise (measured through resting and active VO2 testing) and had lost over 20 pounds in less than two months. I would experience A-fib episodes that lasted 5-8 days (day and night).

Over the years, my thyroid has returned to normal function, but I continue to have A-fib episodes, although much briefer in duration (a few to less than 24 hours). I’ve seen endocrinologists and cardiologists. They don’t know the root cause and the only solutions they have been able to offer are either pharmaceutical drugs or surgery (ie pacemaker). I tried drugs. The side effects were untenable and I’m not willing to have invasive heart surgery when the doctors really don’t understand the cause of the condition. I’ve witnessed way too many people have these types of surgeries which either didn’t solve the “problem” and often made things worse.

These episodes are not comfortable. My nervous and cardiovascular systems are in a state of overload and stress. My heart is working 25-35% harder at everything I do. It basically feels like I’m running… when I’m sitting, lying down, and sleeping. Physiologically it feels like I’m having an anxiety or panic attack. Any kind of physical activity, such as climbing stairs or working out, immediately leaves me breathless and occasionally dizzy.

Reverse curve compared to posterior curveI also have a posterior or reverse curve to my cervical spine (as seen on x-rays). The cervical spine should have an anterior curve. This is a significant structural adaptation that has more than likely developed from my extensive injury history – concussions, whiplash injuries from multiple car and motorcycle accidents, knee surgeries, and many other injuries.

Vagus Nerve (a very rough overview)

The Vagus nerve (CN X) is a cranial nerve that is directly linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, playing a role in heart rate, respiration, and digestion. The Vagus nerve helps to down-regulate or slow down heart rate after the body goes through a sympathetic “fight or flight” response – ie the massive adrenaline rush after a scary situation. In our modern world, most of us are in a constant state of stress creating a low-level “fight or flight” response. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are constantly interacting with one another to maintain some semblance of homeostasis or balance.Vagus nerve

The Vagus nerve originates in the brainstem, traveling down through the neck (external to the spinal cord and spine). Since it travels outside the spinal cord, it is exposed to potential muscular, fascial, or structural entrapment.

My Theory

Due to the reverse curve in my neck, any kind of excess tension or restrictions in the muscle/fascia or vertebral position of the cervical region can occasionally entrap the Vagus nerve. If the Vagus nerve becomes entrapped, the electrical signals between the brain and heart (or respiratory and digestive systems) can become inhibited – ie experience some loss of signal. This loss of signal affects the balance between the conversation of sympathetic and parasympathetic related to heart rate and can cause heart rhythm irregularities. In my case, less signal to downregulate the heart rate which leads to an increased heart rate and arrhythmia.

Movement Session

Today, I am experiencing an episode of A-fib with tachycardia. There is also tension/restriction in my neck related to specific movement patterns. My focus of this session is to improve neck and spinal mobility through the combination of self-massage (using a Thera-cane and lacrosse ball) and Movement Therapy to free the Vagus nerve from entrapment. The past few times I’ve had an episode, this combination seemed to help resolve the arrhythmia pretty quickly.

When searching for the underlying root cause of a “problem”, it is easy to get into a game of the chicken or the egg. The “problem” is rarely ever found with just one simple solution. The human body is a complex system of complex systems. Each system is intricately connected to one another in a constant feedback loop. When one system isn’t working properly, it affects change and can cause other systems to stop working properly, which then feeds back into the larger system, wreaking havoc. This is just one theory that I am playing around with in my movement practice.

**UPDATE to this Case Study with Follow Along Movement Class**

Neck Mobility Vagus Nerve Flossing – Movement Therapy – Feb 04, 2021

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44 Replies to “Vagus Nerve Entrapment Causing Atrial Fibrillation with Tachycardia – Case Study”

  1. Interesting! I have similar problems… I’m working with an Orthopedic, I think my vagus nerve is getting pinched by my clavicle but I think it’s either ribs or something wrong in/around my left shoulder at the root cause.
    I had a physical therapist try to adjust my 1st & 2nd ribs a few times and I swear I was going to die on the table. My heart rate jumped up to 150+ so that’s why I’m fairly confident ribs are at least part of the cause, but what’s pushing the ribs into my clavicle, right?! My scapula? Ugh. Using my left arm in any way or even just getting it tense/tightened just simply by stress escalates my heart rate over 100. I take muscle relaxers & Tylenol daily to keep myself sane. Laying down and turning my head left seems to help calm the nerve & heart rate along with the drugs and using ice on my neck, upper shoulder & clavicle, and deep breathing. But it’s truly maddening… if you fix yourself, please let me know what actually does it! Thanks!! And Good Luck!!

  2. I have the same problem. Twenty years ago a chiropractor violently twisted my neck to the left then back to the right several times. Everyone in the room heard the sounds it made. Within hours I was in the emergency room with a heartbeat of 145, difficulty breathing, dizziness and blurred vision. Gradually the severity of the symptoms diminished but I still have problems to this day. Like the lady above I also ice my neck several times a day (frozen peas and elastic bandage). When I start feeling like my finger is in a light socket I take a muscle relaxant. I have seen several doctors about this and only two have come to correct conclusions in my opinion. One agreed quickly with the gentleman writing the article, namely that the vagus nerve is being pinched and is unable to down regulate the heart. Another specialist I saw in China said that when the chiropractor twisted my neck so violently it stretched the ligaments which now allow the vertebra to move. This instability triggers nerve involvement. Either way the symptoms are really life altering. I have tried everything imaginable (easy sine my wife was a doctor) but the only things that help consistently are ice or a muscle relaxer (Flexerol 5-10mg) Good luck everyone. Do the best you can with what we have.

    1. Hi Charles,

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your experience. Unfortunately, it is a far too common one.

      Since I originally made this post, I’ve experienced a significant improvement in symptoms with my movement practice as the only therapeutic intervention. I posted an update to this post on our Youtube channel “Neck Mobility Vagus Nerve Flossing – Movement Therapy – Feb 04, 2021“.

      I have a theory that, if you are experiencing a vagus nerve impingement, then you would see significant and meaningful improvement in your symptoms. I would love to have an opportunity to chat with you in person. Would you be open to scheduling an online consultation? As a Gift Economy practitioner, I do not charge for consultations. You can schedule an online consult here (

      I look forward to chatting with you soon.
      Jesse James

    2. Have you gotten any better? I often wonder what happened to me as everyone says it’s impossible but I saw a chiropractor and within minutes my heart rate was stuck at 150 blurred vision dizzy. Was like this for days. I now have issues with my heart racing and that was 3 years ago. I also developed trigeminal neuralgia

  3. My husband fell on the slippery ice next to his vehicle one night, landed on his left shoulder and never went to the doctor to have it looked at, instead let time heal it where he can use his arm and shoulder without pain now, but has restriction, popping, and loss of strength. His shoulder looks different that the other one in that he looks to have torn something so there is a space at the top of the ball and socket joint and the shoulder appears more square and narrow. His right side of his back and ribs are hunched outward and his shoulders are not even with each other. He started experiencing AFIB around the same timeframe and it has continued daily for two years so far. I think it’s directly related to the fall and want him to go to a chiro, just don’t know if anyone is good enough for this diagnosis. Any suggestions in MInnesota?

  4. Seventeen years ago, as I was exercising, I had a neck injury, two slipped discs and seven years later serious spinal cord impingement in two places. I had surgery with two level discectomy with bone fusion. On x-ray, I saw my neck was straight instead of curved as it should be. I was told it will never go back to what it was before the accident. I use muscle relaxers when tension in my neck and lower back will not relax. What interested me in your article is seeing this x-ray. Moreover, for many years I have suffered with chronic constipation. I do see a chiropractor who is wonderful for me. After trying almost everything made by God and man to relieve the constipation, I began to look further. I began to research nerve conduction, or rather lack of it, in my colon. I talked with an orthopedist who I saw for chronic lower back pain caused by scoliosis. He told me he didn’t think a nerve impingement was the cause, as usually a nerve problem in the lower back would cause loose stools, not constipation. I spoke with my chiropractor, and he has adjusted others with similar issues with great success. However, his adjustments did not solve my problem. I researched more about the vagus nerve. I really believe there is a connection. About seven years ago, I had an abnormally slow heart rate with low-normal blood pressure. Doctors were not concerned. In the last few months, my blood pressure has gone sky high with a normal heart rate. I have never had an issue with blood pressure ever before in my life. I would like to learn more, and wonder if a vagus nerve impingement in my neck could cause these problems.

  5. Im in the same boat. .. after a high speed head on with drunk many years ago…. catching my breath to stomach issues heart burn to now nausea and stomach and lower pain. Heart races as well. I have a severe reverse curve of the neck. And a farm of bone spurs.. my inverdion table relieve, but going to a doctor and explaining its my neck that is root of all my issues.. gets brushed aside.. uuugh the feeling my neck being squeezed tight and restricted to sore neck muscles sore. I know exercise can fix. But doctor seems overwhelmed lol. I been in excellent shape symtoms and age got me..

    1. Hi Philip,

      Thank you for the comment. Sorry to hear about the accident. Our injuries certainly shape us. The challenge is to mold that shape into something positive. With all of the comments on this post, I’m getting the sense that there is something true about the hypothesis that nerve impingement in the neck is a significant causal factor for all these downstream effects.

      I’d be happy to chat with you about your injury and symptoms, as well as include you in a “beta” group to see how a movement practice can help improve our outcomes. Feel free to schedule a free online consultation here. I look forward to meeting with you soon.

      Jesse James Retherford

  6. I too have had this problem for around 30 years off and on. It is usually triggered by raising my left arm or laying on my left side so I believe it stems from my upper-mid back. I have recently discovered that if I lay on a flat surface, hold my nose, close my mouth and take a deep breath it usually stops the episode. This may not work for everyone but I believe this moves my spine off of the affected nerve. Good Luck to you all because this really sucks.

  7. Thank you for allowing us to comment as it seems there’s a group of us in this challenging journey.
    My neck popped when I woke up at the end of May, 2019 on an average morning when I yawned and stretched.. until POP in my neck. I felt my entire side go numb, had to go to the bathroom instantly and had a near syncopal episode. Many Dr appts later I learned I herniated & tore C6 and have a reverse curve. . Now over two years later I am still having “episodes” that make me feel like my heart is racing or rate drops, dizziness, shaking and exhaustion occur. It seems postural making me believe my cervical spine has instability affecting my vagus nerve and giving me heart palpitations.
    Has anyone had relied, a standing MRI to confirm or deny their theories, or any other conclusive tests?

    1. Hi Andrea,
      Thank you for sharing your very personal story.

      Unfortunately, I have not heard from anyone who has had any imaging done. At least, not in a way that would confirm or deny the hypothesis of vagal nerve entrapment causing heart arrhythmia, or any of the other symptoms that could be associated with the vagus nerve.

      Personally, it’s been years since I’ve spoken to my doctor about this issue. I spent 10+ years getting poked and prodded; all of the scans and imaging; and 24 hour to multi-week heart monitors. My primary care and cardiologists were not very receptive to this Vagal Nerve Entrapment hypothesis. I was given three, of what I considered, very poor options 1) blood thinners, 2) cardiac ablation, and 3) pacemaker.

      Over the past few years, I have spoken to a few MD’s who share some theoretical agreement in the hypothesis. Unfortunately, I was not seeing them as a patient.

      The best that I have in terms of confirmation of this hypothesis is my purely anecdotal case-study.

      Over the past year, I have intentionally added more specific neck and spinal mobility into my daily Movement Therapy practice. In that time, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in arrhythmia (frequency, time, and intensity), which seems to continue to improve, as long as I am diligent with my self-care movement homework:

      Frequency of occurrence
      -was: 1-2 x per week
      -current: 1-2 x per month

      Amount of time in arrhythmia
      -was: 4-12+ hours
      -current: rarely longer than 2-4 hours

      Overall intensity levels of event.
      -was: sitting to standing “I am running full speed and how do I get the room to stop spinning”
      -current: “sitting feels like standing and standing feels like a light jog”

      When I slack on my self-care movement, the frequency and intensity tend to increase. It isn’t perfect, but I am grateful for any improvement.

      I would love to have more “cohorts” to test validity of both the hypothesis, as well as the corrective strategy. Let me know if you’re interested.

      Jesse James Retherford
      You can schedule a free consultation here.

    2. I am 40 years old have always been healthy. In Feb I herniated a disc in my c4/c5 and bulging disc in c5/c6. I also learned at this time I have slight reverse curve of my cervical neck. Since then I have been doing IDD decompression therapy and the pain has gotten much better in 5 weeks. BUT, I have definitely developed POTS along the way. At first I noticed episodes of heart racing which gave me lots of anxiety and panic. Then once that calmed down I started to notice a pattern of my resting pulse being high when at standing posture. But then low when laying down. At first I just said it was from anxiety but now I don’t think so. I really believe it’s either from my herniated disc or from my c1 which I know from xrays is slightly misaligned. If it doesn’t get better with working on my reverse curve I will consult a neurosurgeon to see if he thinks microdisectomy could relieve the POTS. It’s insane to think that the integrity of our necks could really wreck the rest of our bodies. I’m sad and scared but trying to stay hopeful.

  8. I believe I am having similar issues. As my cervical injuries worsen, so too do my heart palpitations. And, to be frank, although I’m not a doctor, I’m surprised more physicians, spine specialists, and cardiologists don’t put two and two together. With a lag person’s knowledge I’ve concluded the connection is obvious: There are quite a few studies indicating this very sort of cervical-cardio complication. That’s how I arrived here, to now write this comment.

    I am having a two-level cervical disc replacement next Friday, as part of a trial which, once proven, will allow the FDA to authorize the Pro Disc for cervical disc replacement. It is currently only approved for the lumbar region in the US, but has been in use for over s decade in Europe. I imagine with restoring my lordosis (curvature) and acquiring proper sleep for the first time in years, my symptoms will improve.

    I’ve had a battery of tests to ensure my heart is physiologically sound: EKG, ECG, blood work, MRI, Holter monitors. No underlying conditions. I am a healthy 30 year-old male who runs two miles every other day, blood pressure 110/65 (when not stressed lol), and a resting heart rate as low as 47 BPM at night.

  9. I am kind of in the same boat… no injury to speak of but bad posture, shoulder, head and neck pain.
    I have had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation for
    7 years… more frequent episodes in the last couple of years. Most last a couple of hours and up to 12 hours. Ablation is the likely suggestion but I think the problem is elsewhere in my nervous system. Several different reasons why – physiologic… a pinched nerve jolt upon palpating at the base of my neck near collarbone. Arrhythmia. Anxiety issues for years. Gerd.

    1. Hey Mike,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I would love to chat with you. I have a feeling that the movement discipline that I teach (The TAOFit Method) to be powerfully helpful. If not with the arrhythmia, definitely with posture, anxiety, and pain. If you’re interested in some guidance, feel free to schedule a free consultation.

      Jesse James

      As a practitioner of Gift Economy, all of my services are available for free as a gift to community. For anyone who finds value in the work that I teach, you can gift back by joining The TAOFit Method Movement Mentorship on Patreon.

  10. Definitely onto something here fellas.
    I’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, degenerative disc diseases, non curvature neck, along with a host of other back problems long ago I had it checked out, did physical therapy. The therapist was looking at my Xray upside down, had me do exact opposite exercises for weeks, I lost all trust in chiropractors. Likewise, my neck never bothered me until he started popping and twisting it. Yes it felt kinda good to get the nerve relief, but overall now my neck feels alot more tense, and basically requires some minor adjust popping every few hours. Much like someone who pops their knuckles. My necks never been the same. My vertebrae in neck were also diagnosed as near rupture status. I’m now 40, just diagnosed with melanoma cancer from a mole on my left ear. Needless to say stress levels are way higher than normal. So when I recently noticed sleeping on my left side triggers some rapid, strong pulsating heart beat basically felt very uncomfortably throughout my entire body, I got concerned and started researching. Brought me here. Theres without a doubt a vagus nerve connection with the heart and I strongly feel my case already proves it to me. I missed by 1pt for my RN nursing degree so I am a bit more experienced than most, but no I walked away from college altogether after my guy in nursing experience. Anyway, long story short, I’m very interested in how this might be corrected permanently. And its obvious to me theres no easy answers. I hate lying on my back its just always been how I sleep on my stomach, side to side. Knowing I cant sleep on left side anymore is a bit worrying to say the least. The clavicle, rib, and shoulder comment is intriguing, but my gut says it has more to do with the spine and neck area, also the stomach and diaphgram pushing on the area abnormally when laying on the left side or stomach. Anyway, I hope and pray all the best for everyone and the most important thing I’ve gathered so far is to try and avoid the triggers, for me laying on left side. I’ve had episodes of numbness before but not as much lately, thank God, removing this almost golf ball cyst from my left breast area seems to have helped my circulation overall. That along with the ear mole was just 2 simple things I wanted out and done with. Sadly, the melanoma diagnosis has me going on further to deal with such a problem. Upon having the rapid heartrate trigger, I know from my scientific education that as alarming as it is, stressing doesnt help so I immediately go into my own personal chill out mode, change position, and luckily it goes away fairly quickly, minutes. The advice and studys about slowed breathing, I can pretty much guarantee will help anyone get their heart rate back down to normal faster upon occurences. 5secs to breathe in, 5secs out, as studied by Dr. Gupta, check out his work on the subject when you have time, I have not yet but this certainly will add relief for all of us suffering from this nerve to heart issue. Stay blessed, stay healthy. Thats next for me, b/c I smoke, drink tons of soda to keep me awake for these graveyard hotel auditor shifts. Get in better shape, so tough for some of us and this pandemic SO hurt all of us a collective humanity across the world, having cut all of our activities down immensely. For some of us like myself, we were already very lazy, this extra weight and stress and lazyness and grunbhubs just set us all back. Stay positive, no matter how difficult, were all in this together in more ways then we know. Just like our whole body, every system and cell, every nerve every connection it all effects everything. Keep researching, keep exercising and stretching, and take it easy. Finally, be very careful and mindful when taking anyones advice, even mine, even your Doc or chiropractor. If there’s no actual definitive cure? The fact is we don’t know for sure. I for one, wont pretend like I do.

    1. Thank you Jeff for an excellent share and solid advice. My left side used to be a trigger too. Not so much sleeping, but the action of rolling over my left shoulder. It was that correlation that lead me to the neck. I had to force myself not to sleep on my left side.

      I’d love to chat with you and compare notes. If you’re up for a chat, you can schedule an online consultation appointment.

      Jesse James Retherford

  11. I’ve had very similar issues to all of these comments. When laying down if I’m looking to the left for too long I’ll get a very sharp intense pain in the middle of my chest and then I’ll get a presyncope experience, then my heart rate and bloop pressure go sky high (for me) it’ll go from 60bpm to 130bpm from 107/70 to 165/110 in like the blink of an eye gradually climbing in as little as 10 seconds sometimes. I’m only 30 so I’ve been brushed off as having anxiety, well I also get serious tremors when it happens like I’m being shocked for like 20 mins or so. You can see every muscle in my body writhing, moving individually contracting severely almost locking my jaw closed. It calms down after an hour or so at no intervention of anything I do besides sometimes an advanced vagal maneuver. I practice deep breathing and meditation and lots of stretching and vagal nerve exercises I’ve seen on YouTube. I can be sitting at a bar bench leaned over and cocking my head to the left I’ll start to get disoriented… it’s terrible been happening since may of 2021 started a day after severe dehydration. Or so they thought that may have been what caused the first episode. I’m extremely active and work on boats so I’m always in weird positions and have my head cocked up or strange while working with pressure on my hands buffing etc. Think maybe something happend I also have TERRIBLE posture which I’ve had my whole life it causes severe back pain after standing for some time which I’ve tried to correct over the years with out success. My whole rib cage and back have shooting pains through out the day. Consulted drs heart is healthy holter monitor doesn’t show arrhythmia, just occasionally have ectopic beats PACs and PVCs sometimes. I have severe nerve pinching as well in lower back while driving for some time. Very uncomfortable I also cannot lay flat on my stomach for long with out lower back hurting.

    1. Everything you said is me to a tee. It would be great to charge to see if you have any useful advise for me as it’s took over my life

      1. Hi Lee,

        I’d be happy to offer whatever advice and guidance that I can. Please schedule a free movement evaluation at your earliest convenience. I look forward to meeting with you soon.
        Jesse James Retherford

  12. I had spondylosis diagnosed in my mid twenties, and I have been fobbed off by doctors many times. I have experienced a lot of stress throughout my life. November last year I began getting alarming heart palpitations, and it felt like my heart was trying to get out of my chest. At the time I had just been made redundant, and was trying to sort out finances and other stuff, but it was proving a nightmare. However, I didn’t realise how stressed I’d become. I ended up having the usual heart tests, ECG, 24-hour monitor, heart scan. After 6 weeks, I was told that there was nothing wrong with my heart, according to the tests, but I continued to take a half tablet of a betablocker each morning as a sort of maintenance dose. I have an underactive thyroid, a frontal hair loss problem (fibrosing alopecia) and feel a complete freak with zero confidence and devalued as a person. I have been waiting in vain for two years now to see a neurologist and getting nowhere. This is because at the end of May last year after a year I got a telephone appointment with a neurologist as I had been getting facial twitches, all on the right side of my face, affecting my right eye and right side of mouth at random times, which were becoming worse. The upshot was I had a brain scan July last year. This showed decompression of an anterior nerve, but I never got a follow-up appointment to discuss any treatment options. I waited months, and eventually I was told by his secretary he had cancelled me for no apparent reason! She couldn’t understand it, either. My doctor re-referred me and some months later, expecting to see a neurologist at long last, I was given a few shots of botox around my right eye by someone doing botox jabs all day, and that was it. I have never yet had a chance to see and discuss my worsening symptoms. I get terrible megrains, cluster headaches, etc. I am totally exhausted! I have been on a waiting list for over a year to get trapesiectomy, and am in a ton of pain in my right hand when I have to use it. I am alone so have no one to help me do anything. Now I have for some time been depressed and really just existing rather than living. I have been wondering if my situation may be caused by entrapment of the vagus nerve, as perhaps that would not have shown up on the brain scan. I have been waiting for twelve weeks now, hoping to get an MRI of the vertebrae in my neck, but have been told that everything has been put on hold due to Covid, so waiting lists are off-scale. Everyone who can afford it are getting on to the private health waiting lists, but people like me do not stand a chance now. I apologise for saying so much, but it is the first time I have been able to speak to anyone. The local doctor’s surgery is like Fort Knox, and there are no face to face appointments. You have to book for a telephone appointment, but may wait a couple of weeks. The receptionists decide whether you can have one. Lots of people just get so fed up and are repelled when they call the surgery. Everyone has to ring at 0800hrs – so most of the time you just can’t get through at all. You may hit lucky if you leave it an hour, but of course, by then, all the appointments have been filled! You are then told to do the same thing the next day!!! Argh! Christine

  13. I have many secondary conditions with no solutions or reasons for the issues. Upper GI pain for two years straight, heart racing when i am sitting in a chair relaxed. I can go from a normal 65 bpm to 140, 160, 180 and higher. I was put on Beta Blockers (pill in pocket). I have huge gallstones, kidney stones, Burning Mouth Syndrome and on and on. My C-5 no longer exists and my C-6 is on its way to disappearing. My C-! (Atlas ) is misaligned laterally to the right. I believe my vagus nerve is damaged or at least the vagus tone is weak as well as my neck ligaments. I have a Neurospinal Optimization Chiropractor that also believes my vagus nerve is the culprit. Cervical instability can cause a ton of secondary health issues. problem with all of this is I believe I finally found the cause of my pain for the past 2 years but the solution is not covered by my Province health care. It is considered alternative and not a necessity in my canadian /Ontario gov’t.

  14. I had 5 bouts of paroxysmal AF, had numerous heart scans and everything normal no cause was found but at that time my posture was awful with forward head position and rounded shoulders. Since I have been working to correct my posture I have had no more episodes in 6 years.

  15. I had bad gerd and pvc`s for years. Eventually started having afib attacks always triggered by reflux. Lay down at night and BAM!
    Kept getting more frequent. Drs brush off my symptoms and pushed for ablation. Got Lynx magnet system around esophagus and never had another issue. Reflux gone as is irritation on the nerves.

  16. I’ve been living with the symptoms for about 10 years. I’m 60 now. It started with crazy loud left side pulsatile tinnitus that varies with neck or jaw position. Also, I have mild vertigo. I get the heart “issues” when sleeping on my back and my head is pushed forward by the pillow. I’m awakened by my heart racing, skipping and going a little nuts. I can sometimes feel some micro-spasms in my neck too.
    If I lay on my back with my head pushed backwards, the symptoms subside after 30 minutes or so. Side sleeping with pillows adjusted for minimal stress on the neck usually works for a few hours of sleep.
    Many MRI’s, MRA’s, CT scans, 4D Time of Flight MRI’s of Brain, Neck, & Temporal lobe didn’t find anything other than mild bone spurs and mild straightening of neck.
    I came to the Vagus Nerve theory myself a few years ago. Doctors don’t offer any theories.

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the comment. Would you be interested in participating in a “case study” to test a hypothesis that a movement modality may have a positive impact upon the symptoms that you feel?

    2. I have very similar problems I have pulsative tinnitus that gets worse when I move my neck or jaw also get heart palpitations and sometimes get runs of fast heart beat when my neck is in a certain position and when I move it they stop . I’ve had lots of heart tests which have been ok ish but I think all my problems are coming from my neck which is worn out and has bone spurs

  17. Just found this blog on a random search of the internet. I felt like I was reading my own medical history there in the beginning. That’s exactly what I’m dealing with right now, and I’m also skeptical of surgery on this. I’m encouraged to see that others are experiencing this as well. There aren’t many doctors outside of chiropractors looking at this theory, though, and that’s a shame.

  18. Jesse, I have even dealing with Afib for almost 5 years now. I prefer functional or Naturopathic Drs, but I did go to a Cardiologist when this first started, to find out the status of my heart. I was told I had a healthy heart. I believe I have vagal Afib, the reason I believe this, is because when an episode starts, if I hum, the majority of the time, I can stop it from progressing into a full episode. I have the most episodes when I lie down at night. I was told and have seen on my X-ray that I have a very straight neck, called military neck. I have had numerous accidents that have affected my neck. I truly believe you’re on to something regarding the vagus nerve impingement. I’m certain mine is caused by something going on with my vagus nerve as well. I know I have low vagal tone , I just want to get past this daily Afib, as I’m sure you have experienced, it has a very negative affect on daily life. I will put more effort into neck work and see if that helps. If we can speak on the phone that would be wonderful. Best, Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy,
      Thank you for the comment. Sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this too. I would be happy to chat with you. I offer free online consultations via Zoom. You can schedule an appointment here.

      If you’re interested in getting started right away, below is a neck mobility routine you can try. Neck Mobility with Self Massage using Foam Roller

      With this movement routine, it is very important that you follow the rules of pain. The below blog describes The Pain Rules.

      I look forward to hearing from you.
      Jesse James Retherford

  19. Wow. Just wow. Eight months ago I woke up with an SVT.. (HR went over 200) I had been recently quite stressed and had a job loss. Holter monitor showed no real issues but occasional early heartbeat. Not too long after that I woke up in severe (level 10+) pain – neck and shoulders – with heavy upper arms, numbness from face to feet.. I started nine weeks of heavy meds which did not resolve things. (Finally pain management injections and chiropractor.) All the time I was having “scary spells” where I felt like my heart was skipping or stopping, then racing, which I felt coming in with a flushing feeling from neck to back and dizziness. Then I had suddenly onset of severe vertigo. Rolled from tummy to back and my world went to spinning. Just two weeks after that, I woke up with a 67 HR, and while relaxed and petting my dog felt my heart go haywire and suddenly my HR was 218. ER determined AFIB.

    Heart valves good. CT angiogram good. MRI of head good. MRI of cervical spine shows problems – very swollen joint (left side), C4-C5 narrow disc with very narrow spinal canal structure throughout. Bone spurs and arthritis, degeneration, and also in my L4-L7 areas, same.

    Still having “spells” but have not yet seen a cardiologist. On meds.

    But everything HERE makes a lot of sense!

  20. Wow – I can’t believe what I am reading! I have the same reverse curvature in my neck/bone spurs/arthritis – had an mri and consultation with a neurologist and top spinal surgeon in the UK about 5 years ago as been suffering from severe neck/shoulder pain. Nothing sinister found and was referred to physio for muscle strengthening exercises and lifestyle changes re use of mobile phone/lap top etc.
    I suffer from episodes of elevated heart rate (5-20 mins) along with a resting heart rates as low as 60. In the past have had ECGs to check me out and have always been in normal range – albeit tachycardic when having the ECG – due to my horrible health anxiety.
    I recently saw my GP as had a racing heart episode that lasted for 4 hrs approx 24 hrs after my latest MRNA covid vaccine (could have been coincidence) – it really freaked me out and I was about to call an ambulance but after using some vagal manoeuvres – ice cold water and bearing down – my heart rate slowed back to normal. All my blood tests came back normal and GP does not think it’s anything cardio related. He prescribed me propranolol (beta blocker) as the pill in the pocket and therapy as I have had a lot of traumatic events over the past few years and thinks that I am suffering from ptsd/severe anxiety which I probably am. I have taken the propranolol only 5 x in the past 3 months when my heart has gone into this awful racing episode – usually mid morning – it feels like I am wired with adrenaline and no amount of deep breathing etc works. You can actually see my solar plexus area bouncing up and down with the rapid heart rate. The drug works brilliantly and within 60 mins my heart has completely slowed and I do feel calmer again.
    I do believe my anxiety is an issue (due to what’s happened to me over the last 5 years), however I am convinced that the vagus nerve and it’s potential entrapment is a big factor too and is linked to everything re my heart racing/adrenaline flooding my body etc.
    Would love to discuss this with you and find out more as it seems as I am not alone as I once thought I was.
    So glad to have found this site and all your great work. How I found your site was also very interesting – let’s just say I was divinely guided to it!
    Heather (Somerset, UK) age 59. Leadership Consultant. Qualified Reflexologist and interested in holistic wellness.

  21. Palpitations when getting up lying down and when waking ECG DONEall blood works done nothing wrong I have really bad lower back pain like my obliques foe into spasm have been told due to posture and lack of exercise however the palpitations are intermittent but annoying to say the least trying to stay positive that I’m not going to drop dead

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