In my 37 years of chiropractic practice, I have seen many patients with interesting cases. I recall treating a teenager named Jake, whose parents brought him to my office in the springtime. Jake had been playing fall football while in middle school and suffered a sports related concussion. The injury required him to miss the rest of the football season. Jake had seen excellent neurologists for his concussion and had physical therapy which alleviated 75% of his symptoms. However, when he came to my office, he was still having headaches, concentration difficulties, sleep problems and neck and upper back pain.
It is important to realize that if there is sufficient trauma to cause a brain concussion there more than enough force to cause injury to the upper area of one’s neck. This article will discuss concussion, related symptoms and treatment for persistent post-concussion problems.
Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as concussion, is caused by a blow to the head or other impulse force to the body transmitted to the head (like whiplash). 1.7 million TBI’s occur per year the United States. 300,000 of these are sports related.
85% suffering from concussion will have symptoms that resolve in 7 to 10 days. However, the remainder may suffer persistent symptoms. If this continues for more than four weeks those affected are considered to have a chronic problem known as post-concussion syndrome.
Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, visual problems like blurriness and double vision, fatigue, concentration difficulty, confusion, sleep problems and even cardiovascular symptoms. Many also suffer from neck and upper back pain.
It is important for anyone having a TBI to see a neurologist who specializes in this condition. Physical therapy may help a great deal if there are balance problems. It is also important that anyone suffering lingering effects of a concussion see a chiropractor for a possible injury of the upper spinal area.
The neck area of the spine is also referred to as of the cervical spine. If there is an injury to the cervical spine that results in misalignment or improper movement of those spinal bones, called vertebrae, the spinal joints and nerves may be adversely affected. If this is the case the same symptoms that one suffers from a mild brain injury can be present. In other words, a problem occurring in the upper cervical spine can mimic the same symptoms that occur when a mild TBI is experienced.
This is what happened to my patient Jake. He had malalignment and improper motion of the vertebrae of his upper cervical spine. This affected the spinal joints and nerves of this area which in turn, caused him to have symptoms noted earlier.
As a chiropractor I have extensive training and experience in evaluating upper cervical spine injuries. The chiropractic profession has safe, effective methods to treat these injuries. The most common form of treatment is to utilize gentle chiropractic adjustments to realign and restore normal movement to problems of the upper cervical spine.
I’m happy to report that with conservative chiropractic care Jake’s remaining problems resolved and he was able to continue playing football the next fall.