What is a concussion?

In Montana we get a wide range of temperatures. What a wonderful thing to experience all four seasons in such a beautiful place! Each season has its ups and downs, but what is the one thing that is seen across all seasons? The one thing that does not care whether it is snowing or sunny? Concussions.

A concussion can occur at any time - much like a car accident, this type of traumatic brain injury can happen suddenly, without warning, and can have horrific effects on the function of one of our most precious organs. Our brains are incredible power houses of neuro-function. It is the origin of movement and thought. The birthplace of pain sensation, hunger, emotion, and many other things that make us who we are. Damage to this magnificent organ can be detrimental and often fatal.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a bump, blow, or jolt to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The brain floats around inside the skull in something called cerebrospinal fluid. The only tether it has to the rest of the body is the brain stem, which connects to your spinal cord surrounded by the vertebra of your spine. Anything that causes your brain to move around inside your skull can be categorized as a concussion. This could include something minimal like stepping off of a curb wrong, or something traumatic like a blow to the head.

Symptoms

Concussions often have debilitating symptoms like extreme fatigue, headaches, migraines, neck and shoulder pain, ringing in the ears, and poor balance. These symptoms are affected by the structure of the body and usually result from severe whiplash during a concussion. These structural issues can easily be resolved with an adjustment from a chiropractor!

There are other neuro symptoms that often require careful attention as well. These include brain fog, inability to focus, memory loss, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound. Many chiropractors have certifications in craniosacral therapy, which studies show is one of the most beneficial therapies for relieving concussion symptoms. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle touch therapy that helps relieve pain through releasing tension of the fascia attached to our muscles. This fascia, through pain and injury, gets tight and pulls on the muscles of the upper and lower neck, especially in the instances of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. By releasing the tense fascia attached to these muscles, the muscles are then allowed more movement and space to relax, promoting blood flow. More blood flow means less pressure on the nervous system, and thus pain relief!

While a lot of symptoms require the body to work on healing itself, there are ways to hasten the process.

Chiropractic Therapy

When thinking about ways to heal a concussion, chiropractic therapy may not yet be on your radar, but it should! Chiropractors focus on realignment of the joints of the spine, but as we’ve seen here already, the spine connects to the entire body - the brain stem that connects your spinal cord, the hip joint holding your legs in place, as well as your shoulder joints that hold your arms and shoulders together. The spine is the center beam holding the rest of your house up.

There is one particular vertebra that chiropractors focus on when addressing patients with concussions or any concussive symptoms. The Atlas, or C1, is the very last vertebrae at the top of your spine at the base of your skull. The joint of the Atlas vertebrae surrounds the beginning of the spinal cord, right at the junction of the brainstem and spinal cord. When this joint is out of alignment, it can exacerbate concussion symptoms. Realignment of that vertebra eases the pressure on your spinal cord, allowing more blood flow to that area as your body begins to heal. Once the spine is in alignment, there is less pressure on the discs between vertebrae as well, which eases nerve pain and many of the neuro symptoms people face in a post concussion state.

Conclusion

Like many injuries, concussions take time to heal. In fact, kids take 2-3x longer to heal from concussions than adults! It is imperative to seek treatment if you feel either physical or neurological symptoms, or any combination. It is also important to understand that chiropractic care is not often a “one and done” type of therapy. Your spine moves as you move, so once you receive an adjustment, things will shift in the days and weeks afterward. For concussion treatment, chiropractors recommend getting adjusted 1-2x a week for at least 4 weeks, or until the symptoms subside. Request an appointment here: https://absarokapainandrehab.com or call Absaroka Pain and Rehab at 406-587-8446 for an appointment in our Bozeman office.