chiropractic and concussions

How Chiropractic Care May Be Able to Help with Concussion Recovery

Concussion is a common injury among people of all ages, but it can be so much more than just a headache. In fact, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of brain injury globally. In Canada, 2% of the population lives with TBI and there are another 18,000 hospitalizations each year, according to Brain Injury Canada.

To help with recovery from a concussion, it’s important not to dismiss your post-concussion symptoms, or mask them with medication without first uncovering the root cause.

Victoria family chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie says, “if you are unsure if you or your child may have a concussion, it is particularly important to be assessed right away to decrease any risk of long-term side effects.”

Along with medical treatment by your doctor, chiropractors are trained to play a role in diagnosing, treatment and management of post-concussion symptoms.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion typically results from direct, or indirect trauma to the head, but Dr. Louie reports that many patients with a head injury may have had a concussion without realizing it.

An underlying neck injury could be the culprit since those unexplained aches and pains could be traced back to the residual effects from a past injury that may have seemed like a minor incident. Maybe it was an especially hard tackle on the football field, or a slip and fall on the pool deck. It could be a distant memory when post-concussion symptoms strike.

No matter our age, or fitness level, we’re all vulnerable to concussion at some point. In fact, Brain Injury Canada estimates that 200,000 concussions occur annually.  With plenty of rest, the majority of patients can be symptom-free after a week or two, but some patients can continue experiencing symptoms if not treated by a professional. Early examination and diagnosis might help you with concussion management and help to avoid Post-Concussion Syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Four of the most commonly reported symptoms after a concussion are headaches, dizziness, nausea and neck pain. Other clinical symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety/ poor mood
  • Feeling depressed or tearful
  • Feeling frustrated or impatient
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Ataxia (walking becomes more difficult and uncoordinated)
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Light-headedness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Muscle pain
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Difficulty reading
  • Visual changes
  • Double vision (diplopia)
  • Blurry vision near objects
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Forgetfulness (memory)
  • Taking longer to think
  • Sleep disruption

This is an extensive list, but by no means all-inclusive.  People can experience concussions quite differently. As with any injury, it’s critical to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you.

Sometimes, particularly after a closed head trauma or severe head injury, we need help to make sense of the messages we are receiving in our bodies. At Mind Body Spine, we’re here to enhance your understanding and get you on the path to recovery with an individualized treatment plan.

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), like a major sports injury, patients can develop what is known as Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS.) There are so many variables that it’s impossible to predict who will develop Post-Concussion Syndrome. What is known, however, is that the longer symptoms are left unchecked, the more likely they are to become chronic.

Most symptoms will resolve in 7-10 days, but they can persist in athletes. This is particularly true with athletes who participate in contact and aggressive sports, like boxing, football, hockey and more. These athletes are also at high risk of re-injury. Because of this, they need to take the recommended downtime to heal.

There are six categories of symptoms involved with post-concussion syndrome:

  1. Cognitive-Fatigue
  2. Vestibular symptoms
  3. Oculomotor fatigue
  4. Anxiety/mood
  5. Post-traumatic migraine
  6. Cervical symptoms

Post-concussion symptoms can result from an untreated, underlying neck injury as well as the body’s attempt to protect itself from further harm and to find balance. This attempt to find balance can potentially affect your posture and alignment, leading to a secondary injury.

For instance, if you were in a motor vehicle accident and were left with pain in your right knee, your body would rely more heavily on your left knee. Over time, putting extra strain on your left knee and adjusting your posture to avoid putting weight on your right knee could create an imbalance. This can feel an awful lot like you’ve also hurt your back, hips, leg, or even the initially uninjured knee.

Note: Mind Body Spine is an ICBC Chiropractic Care provider in Victoria. If you have concerns following an accident, we are happy to help get you feeling better.

How Chiropractic Care May Be Able to Help with Recovery from a Concussion

When we think of traditional chiropractic treatment, some of us narrow our focus to spinal care alone rather than through the lens of total-body health and wellness.

As a fully trained and licensed chiropractor with advanced training in Kinesiology, Dr. Louie works hard to connect the dots between a past injury and present concussion injuries or secondary injury symptoms like headaches and fatigue.

If you have experienced the common symptoms of concussion, total body chiropractic therapy may be able to provide relief. Above all, your treatment plan often begins with rest and good nutrition. Dr. Louie maintains that rest can be one of the best tools you can use to recover your health after a concussion.

“This means rest from activities that you may not even think can be doing harm. Rest includes limiting activities that require concentration and limiting screen time, whether it is a phone, tablet or TV. Work/school and physical activity should also be avoided,” says Dr. Louie.

Once symptoms start improving, then a gradual return to activities like prescribed home exercises and stability exercises is recommended. However, if symptoms start to return, all activity must be limited.

“As chiropractors, we are trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of this type of head injury, and it is important to help a patient fully recover, so they can return to full function,” Dr. Louie says.

If you or a loved one is suffering from post-concussion side-effects, the road back to optimum health may be only a phone call away. Based in Victoria, BC, Dr. Louie and her chiropractic team at Mind Body Spine can create an individual treatment plan tailored to your specific symptoms and health history. Contact Mind Body Spine today to find out more about your recovery from debilitating concussion symptoms.