When most people think about a concussion they think of the damage that is done to the brain. MRIs, Cat Scans, x-rays and neurological exams are generally focused on the skull and brain. But persistent symptoms related to a concussion may have more to do with the neck, then the head.
Concussion is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury. According to mayoclinic.com, usual symptoms that accompany a concussion are headache, amnesia and confusion. But many other symptoms may follow, sometimes not for days or weeks following the initial injury. These may include ongoing headaches, dizziness, brain fog, light or noise sensitivity and feelings of depression or frustration. If symptoms develop or persist over a period of a weeks, months or years, you likely have what is termed “post concussion syndrome.”
A study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (as presented in the JAMA Pediatrics, Feb 2013) indicated that post concussion syndrome (PCS) developed in 29.3% of children between the ages of 5-18 who presented to the emergency department with concussion. Other studies also indicate that about one third of those who experienced a concussion injury will develop PCS.
Dr. Robert Cantu, a Neurosurgeon and world renowned expert in concussion and post concussion symptoms suggests a list of 26 symptoms that can be related to PCS. In his book, Concussion and our Kids, Dr. Cantu highlights 4 categories of symptoms: Somatic (affecting the physical), Emotional (affecting mood), Sleep disturbance and Cognitive (affecting thinking and processing information).
It is clear that a concussion and post concussion symptoms can leave you with much more than just a headache. But why are the symptoms lingering?
Following any head or neck trauma that is significant enough to cause a concussion, there will be a tearing loose of the connective tissue that holds the spine in place as well. This will lead to a weakness that will allow the spine to breakdown and lock into a stressed position. This misalignment pattern frequently develops as the heavy head is slightly misaligned from the upper neck bones. As little as three quarters of a degree is enough to alter the position of the head and force the brain to adapt the spinal posture in order to keep the eyes and ears level with the horizon. This is known as the righting reflex within the brain. Once this upper neck misalignment has occurred and posture has changed, blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain begins to be altered as well. This misalignment in the upper neck and subsequent brainstem dysfunction has been shown to be an underlying cause of post concussion syndrome. Once this upper neck misalignment is corrected, precisely, gently and specifically symptoms of post concussion syndrome have resolved almost miraculously at times. These upper neck misalignments can only be corrected by someone trained in specialized upper cervical chiropractic procedures.
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Dr. Dan Spinato of the San Diego Integrative Spine Center in San Diego, California is a Rancho Penasquitos Chiropractor and an Upper Cervical Specialist trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Over the past 30 years, Dr. Spinato has helped many people find natural relief in San Diego, California. His upper cervical clinic also serves the communities of Rancho Penasquitos, Carmel Valley, Poway, Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo. He is uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including migraine headaches, chronic neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, allergy and sinus problems and temporomandibular joint disorders. More information can be found on his website at http://www.powaychiropractor.net.
What is NUCCA
The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) is an organization of Doctors of Chiropractic dedicated to patient care, education and research.
Spinal health care using the NUCCA procedures focuses on detecting and correcting a small misalignment in the upper neck area. Gentle, non-invasive adjustments don’t require any turning, twisting or popping.
Your upper cervical spine (neck) area influences all areas of your body. Injury or chronic misalignments can cause headaches, migraines, neck pain, low back pain, weakness and more.
The NUCCA technique is currently offered by less than 1% of all the Doctors of Chiropractic.
Before the NUCCA procedure can be performed, I will sit down with you and discuss your history and symptoms. If I determine that NUCCA can help, a thorough examination and x-rays will be done. A complete report of your findings and treatment options will be discussed.
Precision x-rays are taken of the spine before any treatment begins. The adjustment is performed with the patient lying on their side and the doctor applying a very light pressure behind the earlobe. A full demonstration can be seen on the video above.
The NUCCA procedure can be summed up with 5 major distinctions as compared to traditional Chiropractic:
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