Whiplash and its involvement in Post-Concussion Syndrome

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October 5, 2013


Headaches and Migraines are common symptoms that individuals often experience after even mild trauma to the head.  Concussions are a mild traumatic brain injury, as they create inflammation and swelling in our cranium.   These injuries can take weeks, months or even greater amounts of time to resolve if not rehabilitated appropriately.  The headaches that occur after a concussion may never go away, unless treated by specialist such as a Chiropractic Neurologist. 

When an individual hits their head, they often injure an area known as the suboccipital region.  This is a very delicate region, as it is responsible for proprioceptive feedback (communication to/from the brain) to the vestibular and cerebellar regions of the brain that control balance and coordination via muscle tone.  This area is responsible for seven times more proprioceptive feedback to the brain than any other muscle group in the body.   Structurally, it is of great importance as it encapsulates blood vessels and nerves that are supplying the scalp, controlling pain, touch and pressure.  Therefore, it can easily create head and neck pain if affected in an injury such as this.

Common signs of a head injury:

  • Chronic head tilt to one side
  • Chronic head rotation
  • Deviation of normal eye movement
  • Dizziness/Vertigo symptoms
  • Tension and misalignments of cervical and suboccipital regions
  • Loss of normal posture (head begins to move forward)
  • Falling to one side/imbalance
  • Fogginess in thought, memory issues, emotional instability
  • Memory issues
  • Emotional instability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not able to ride in a vehicle without difficulty
  • Difficulty reading

Common Headaches/Migraine type symptoms:

  • Pain at the base of the skull
  • Pain behind or around the eyes
  • Pain in the forehead/sinus regions
  • Pain in the temples
  • Pain/stiffness in the neck
  • Stiffness in upper back/shoulders
  • Reduced rib expansion/breathing difficulty
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sensitivity to smell, light, sound, foods

Joint restriction and tightening of muscles at the base of the skull creates inflammation and pressure changes.  This compresses the blood vessels and nerves that are exiting that region.  Once these are irritated, they activate nociceptive pathways, creating headache pain. 

How do we treat it?

Treatment consists of chiropractic care, neurological retraining and physical rehabilitation to reduce compression and restore normal function to the regions affected.  There is often more than one area involved, which is why we look at many different causes that may be contributing to your headaches.  Chiropractic Neurology has very high success rates with treatment of these conditions.

*Disclaimer: It is always recommended that you are examined by a health care professional  immediately following any concussion incident.  MRI or CT scans are commonly prescribed if any question arises as to the severity of such an incident.