A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to accelerate and decelerate rapidly inside of the skull. Falls, car accidents, sports injuries, assaults, and other similar incidents can all cause concussive forces. Contrary to what many people might think, a loss of consciousness is not necessary in order to have suffered a concussion – in fact, most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. Although a concussion may not be a life-threatening condition, the after-effects of a concussion can be debilitating and compromise a person’s quality of life for many months or even years after the injury took place.
What are the Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Most people with a concussion will experience a slow and steady recovery, making a full recovery in a few days to a few weeks. Generally speaking, recovery will actually be slower for young children and teens (whose brains are still developing) and older adults who may heal slower overall. However, for some people, concussion symptoms can linger on for months following the initial impact. Post-concussion syndrome, or PCS, occurs when various symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and brain fog persist long after the injury took place. These post-concussion syndrome symptoms can be looked at under three distinct categories – physical, emotional, and cognitive:
- Dizziness and vertigo – feeling as if the world is spinning around you or that you are in motion when you’re actually still is common in the first few days after a concussion. For those living with post-concussion syndrome, the sensations of dizziness and vertigo can persist for many years. These feelings may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and feeling lightheaded or faint.
- Fatigue – moderate to severe fatigue is normal when healing from a concussion, but the majority of PCS sufferers report that this fatigue persists long after other symptoms have gone away. There is still a lot of research being conducted on the healing process of the brain following a concussion, and there is no agreed upon standard about how much exertion is appropriate following a head injury. Rest for your body and your mind is critical for healing, especially in the window of time immediately following the injury.
- Light sensitivity – being sensitive to light can be both a symptom of post-concussion syndrome or trigger other symptoms to worsen (I.e. migraines). The light emitted from digital screens and fluorescent lights seem to be among the worst when it comes to contributing to the persistence of PCS symptoms.
- Vision changes – blurry, fuzzy, or spotty vision is present in almost half of concussion sufferers reporting lingering symptoms.
- Headaches and migraines – experiencing recurring headaches and/or migraines is one of the most common complaints of post-concussion syndrome. As many as 90% of PCS sufferers experience chronic headaches or migraines. The odds of having chronic headaches issues increases with a prior history of migraines or with repeated head injuries.
- Sensitivity to noise
- Depression – depression following a head injury is extremely common and can be one of the most difficult symptoms to address, lasting for years after the concussion. Depression can lengthen recovery time and affect how severely other symptoms are perceived and processed.
- Anxiety – anxiety, much like depression, can leave a post-concussion patient feeling like there is no hope for recovery. Anxiety can run high in PCS sufferers when it comes to environmental factors that are difficult to control, such as loud noises when you’re sensitive to sound, or bright lights when you know they’ll trigger a migraine.
- Sleep difficulties – traumatic brain injuries like concussions can create several types of sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, night terrors, and non-restorative sleep. This can be a part of a vicious cycle since rest and sleep are an important part of the healing process after a concussion
- Memory loss – brain fog or memory loss impacts approximately 75% of individuals with post-concussion syndrome. The physical trauma to the brain tissue as well as dealing with other symptoms like fatigue can contribute to the persistence of this problem.
- Difficulty concentrating – there are many reasons for a loss in the ability to concentrate as well as you may have been able to prior to a concussion. If you are dealing with changes to your vision, anxiety, and head or neck pain, those can all be contributing factors in your cognitive disruption.
- Thinking delay – many PCS sufferers might find that they have a hard time recalling words or take longer to process and respond to day-to-day requests.
Natural, Gentle, and Lasting Relief for Post-Concussion Syndrome Patients
If you’re several weeks, months, or even years post-concussion and you’re still dealing with stubborn symptoms, then it’s necessary to address the root cause of the problem in order to start getting back to normal again. This is the focus of upper cervical chiropractic care when it comes to working with patients after a head or neck injury. Even the mildest of concussions required a force significant enough to shift your brain around inside of your head. When this happens, it is also very likely to have caused a shift in the uppermost vertebra of your neck that holds your head in its neutral, normal position. The atlas vertebra is designed to move, and when there is a concussive blow to the head or body, it can easily misalign. This can be a major factor in the persistence of the physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms listed above since the atlas protects the part of your central nervous system that is responsible for many of your body’s life-sustaining functions.
At Providence Chiropractic, we understand the sensitive nature of working with our patients following a concussion injury. Our approach is gentle, precise, and tailored to each individual we care for. When we are able to restore normal atlas alignment underneath the head, the body’s natural healing process is optimized, leading to the reduction or resolution of lingering PCS symptoms. To find out more about upper cervical chiropractic care and how it can help you recover more fully and efficiently after a concussion, scheduling a consultation is the first step on the road to relief.