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What is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is sudden, unexplained onset vomiting up to 4 times every hour lasting for a period of anywhere between 1 to 14 days, at which point it also stops just as suddenly. It is relatively symptom free between episodes, which can be every few weeks to every 12 months, but the time between each episode usually gets shorter and shorter.  It is a condition that is also common in children as well, though the cycles aren’t as clearly defined. Chances are that if you are reading this, you know first-hand exactly how debilitating these periods of vomiting are.  

CVS Diagnosis and Treatment

Early medical management is essential to clear more serious causes, but there are limited medical options that help this condition. Physiotherapy isn’t necessarily considered a first-choice treatment for CVS, but when you consider the muscles in the neck and its neural pathways, it makes sense for a specialist headache and neck physiotherapist, who knows what to look for clinically, to get involved in the management of this condition.  

For example, most sufferers of cyclic vomiting syndrome will have some degree of persistent neck pain and/or headache when the vomiting is in remission, and the intensity of the neck pain and headache will increase during the vomiting cycle.  

The Vagus Nerve and CVS

The Vagus Nerve is relevant because the nerves that originate in the upper neck share a common neural processing pathway in the brainstem (called a nucleus) with the Trigeminal nerve, (which is one of the main causes of headache), and the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as vasomotor activity (sweating) and certain reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and most interestingly, vomiting.

When the muscles and joints in the neck are compromised in exactly the wrong way, they place stress on the nerve roots in the neck, which in turn influence and compromise these more complex nerve pathways, resulting in referred pain in the head and an unstoppable stimulus to vomit.

Headache, Neck & Jaw Conditions We Treat

Our Brisbane clinics specialise in the treatment of head, neck and jaw conditions, many of which are notoriously difficult to treat. If you’re experiencing symptoms of any of the following problems, our team has the expertise and training to help.



Jaw and Orofacial Pain

Neck Pain and Trauma

Whiplash and Nerve Pain

Vertigo & Dizziness


Singing / Vocal


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