If you suffer a head injury and are fortunate enough to survive it, the next danger is the risk of ongoing effects. What are some of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome? Long-term symptoms of PCS may include:
- Vertigo and/or dizziness
- Migraines and/or headaches
- Cognitive problems (memory and concentration)
- Neck pain
- Mood changes – irritability
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Depression and/or anxiety
There are reasons why you should never underestimate concussions, regardless of how mild the injury may seem.
You may think that you escaped a fender-bender or a hard fall on the snowboard without a helmet unscathed, but it’s important to get assessed for post-concussion syndrome no matter what level of discomfort you’re in. How you feel after your accident may not always reflect the true impact of the injury itself.
You might feel unlike yourself for a few days before being able to fully function, and move the way you want. Or, you could experience nasty side effects like headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and mood changes that could last anywhere from a couple of days to even months.
Many of our patients come to our office, not because they’re looking for a concussion specialist, but because they are experiencing unexplainable aches and do not feel at all like themselves. They often do not realize that their pain can be traced back to an accident that happened months or even years ago.
How Does Post-Concussion Syndrome Relate to the Upper Cervical Spine?
With this background information on concussions, traumatic injuries, and the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, the link to upper cervical misalignments is easier to discern. Consider some of the following effects of a misaligned atlas (C1) and axis (C2).
Impaired Brainstems Function – Since the C1 houses and protects the brainstem, even a slight misalignment can place pressure on this vital part of the nervous system and impair proper function. As a result, communication between the brain and body may suffer. Many of the symptoms noted above can occur due to altered brainstem function.
Inhibited Blood Flow to and from the Brain – Arteries in the neck bring oxygen-rich blood to the brain while veins allow the blood to drain back to the heart and lungs. Misalignments in the neck decrease the blood flow in either direction which may result in many of the symptoms noted above.
Reduced Cerebrospinal Fluid Drainage – When the C1 and C2 are misaligned, cerebrospinal fluid may not drain properly out of the head. The result can be intracranial pressure that leads to many of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome and other chronic conditions. This issue has been noted using an upright MRI to track CSF drainage both before and after an upper cervical misalignment was corrected. In this research, drainage improves once the blockage has been corrected. For one former professional American football star, the dramatic effects were life-changing. He went from having to carry his wife’s name and contact info on a card in case he became disoriented while away from home to being able to function on a fairly normal basis.
Now that we see the effects that upper cervical misalignments can have on the nervous system, it is easy to see how they can lead to migraines, vertigo, cognitive difficulties, and all of the other telltale signs of post-concussion or post-traumatic syndrome.
We have countless stories about patients with post-concussion syndrome but one of the more recent is a patient that was involved in a car accident about 6 or 8 weeks ago. She got rear-ended but by a car going approximately 15 mph but, oddly enough, she DID NOT hit her head. Within minutes of the accident she developed a pounding headache but within several days she began to develop brain fog, confusion, loss of concentration and sensitivity to light and sound. She initially restricted work to part-time but that too became overwhelming. The first few weeks of care, she would get relief from the headache, pain, and emotional distress but it wouldn’t last very long. Now, nearly 6 weeks into care, much of the brain fog, emotional ups and downs, headaches and lack of concentration has greatly improved. She still has more healing ahead but this is a typical patient we see after suffering from a concussion and upper neck injury.