Concussion Conditions Treatment Chiropractor in San Diego, CA

In the US, roughly 16 million people will suffer some form of head injury every year, and about 1 out of every six head injuries will experience long-lasting persistent symptoms. Concussions are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries. Your concussion symptoms are tied to the function of the injured part of your brain.

Your brain sits suspended in fluid inside your skull. When you hit your head, if the forces are powerful enough, your brain can bounce back and forth inside the skull – a coup-contrecoup injury. Your brain, brainstem, and spinal cord are all connected. When you whip your brain around inside the skull it can be similar to someone pulling a vegetable out of the ground. When you pull a vegetable out of the ground, typically, it will tear at the root. In this case, instead of a root, we’re talking about the brainstem and the deep midline structures in the brain called the diencephalon. These areas can experience the shearing forces and stretch beyond what they can handle. This is what we call a diffuse axonal injury.

Brain injuries most commonly occur with falls, car accidents, and sports injuries. You do not need to lose consciousness or even hit your head to experience a concussion or traumatic brain injury. All you need to do is whip the brain around inside the skull hard enough to injure it. Signs and symptoms can be mild and even delayed, sometimes taking days or weeks to appear. Symptoms can be physical, cognitive, emotional, hormonal, immune, etc.

Overview and symptoms of a concussion (mTBI)

Concussions are brain injuries that can occur when someone sustains a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. These injuries trigger a pathological neurochemical reaction in the brain and a shearing/twisting of the neuronal pathways (think of these as brain communication highways that carry out all of the brain’s functions). This phenomenon then can cause symptoms that can range from mild to complete incapacitation.

Here are some common signs and symptoms you might experience:

  • Headached
  • Neck Pain
  • Blurry Vision
  • Confusion and Mental Fogginess
  • Dizziness
  • Memory Loss
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Slurred Speech
  • Tinnitus
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mood swings
  • Sensitivity to light and noise

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How We Treat Concussion In San Diego, CA

Concussions are brain injuries that can affect one or multiple regions of the brain. The brain is a weighted object suspended in fluid and attached to a delicate, rope-like structure called your brainstem. During a concussion, inertial forces push and pull the brain in different directions, causing it to collide with the inside of the skull and twist on top of the brainstem, similar to the inner fibers of a wet towel when you attempt to squeeze the water out of it. In most cases, an MRI or CT scan cant detect the full extent of a concussion’s injuries. This is one of many variables that makes concussions and traumatic brain injuries hard to diagnose accurately. As a result, the overwhelming consensus in neuroscience is that the more comprehensive the testing is, the better. It is through this framework that we designed our evaluation. We try to assess as many brain networks as possible in your exam. Some of the most common brain networks involved in concussions are:

  • vestibular network (inner ear)
  • the visual network (vision)
  • the oculomotor network (eye movements)
  • the autonomic network (vital reflexes, vagus nerve)
  • the cognitive network (focus/memory)
  • the somatosensory network (body awareness and movement)

Through various bedside examinations and functional diagnostic tools, we assess the function of each one of these networks to evaluate what parts of your brain were injured by your concussion.

Once we have a clearer idea of your injuries, we can create a personalized treatment plan. We provide neuroplastic therapies to help strengthen the injured pathways in the brain, much like a physical therapist provides exercises to rehab an injured body part. Our concussion rehabilitation approach has helped us achieve extraordinary results with patients who suffered from severe side effects of a concussion(s) for months or even years

Concussion Treatment Therapies in San Diego, CA

Most therapies for the body are tailored to wherever the injury occurred. If you injured your knee, your rehab would be designed around optimizing that region and any other structures that help support it. This approach is no different for the brain. Once we’ve examined all those networks discussed above, we can formulate a treatment protocol to help optimize function in the injured regions of the brain.

For the brain to rebuild, it relies on an adaptive process called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to strengthen and change structure and function throughout life. As long as the neurons are alive, they have the potential to grow and strengthen.

Building neuroplasticity in the brain is very similar to building stronger muscles in your body. If you are training for a marathon and only run 1x a week, you aren’t going to achieve the changes you need. If you are running 3x a week, you have a much better chance of building that strength and endurance. The same principles apply to your brain. It needs consistent repetition over time to grow new connections.

Here is a list of some of the Brain-Based Therapies we offer for concussion treatment in San Diego, CA:

  • Vestibular Therapy
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Autonomic Therapy
  • Vagus Nerve Therapy
  • Vision Therapy
  • Proprioceptive Therapy

Soft Tissue and Chiropractic Treatment

Extensive soft tissue damage and joint dysfunction are common occurrences caused by head traumas. The violent whipping movement of your head and neck can damage muscles, ligaments, discs, and joints. When these structures are injured, they can irritate blood flow and nerve function. The injury to these regions can also leave you with scar tissue and adhesions which can irritate underlying and surrounding tissues. Cervical injuries can mimic most concussion symptoms making it critical for someone to examine your neck and not just your brain. From there, receiving soft tissue and targeted chiropractic treatment can help your recovery.

Low-Level Laser Therapy for Concussion and TBI

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), aka photobiomodulation, is a powerful therapy for many different injuries and conditions. Concussions and brain injuries are no different. The first thing LLLT augments is tissue recovery and healing. Specific light wavelengths actually stimulate a part of your cells called your mitochondria, the powerhouse energy producers of your cells. They have a photoreceptive enzyme called Cytochrome C, which feeds off that light energy and helps turn over more energy in the cell.

The second thing LLLT will do is increase blood flow by promoting nitric oxide production. Blood carries essential nutrients, building blocks, and oxygen. The more of this you have funneled to the damaged regions, the faster you can heal.

Third, LLLT will promote growth factors for neurons. Things like nerve growth factor NGF and brain-derived nerve growth factor BDNF are upregulated in the region wherever the laser is applied. These growth factors are essential to signal the cells to build and strengthen the neurons. The strengthening of neurons is key to Plasticity.

The last thing LLLT can promote is alpha and gamma brain waves. These brain waves help the brain shift into a more calm and focused state. This does not necessarily speed up the recovery process directly but can potentially make concussion recovery a smoother process. Brain injuries and concussions tend to shift people into fight or flight. Alpha and gamma brain waves help combat that fight or flight response.

Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction in Concussion and TBI

Following a head trauma, our nervous system should transition into a sympathetic, or fight or flight, state. This shift affects many other systems – our hormones increase adrenaline production, and our immune system engages in an inflammatory response. As the injury heals, our brain and body should engage our parasympathetic nervous system and transition back towards a recovery state. The vagus nerve plays a role in this transition, reducing our inflammation, relaxing the mind, and activating our recovery organs.

Unfortunately, the brain controls the system that helps manage these recovery actions. Sometimes concussions and other brain injuries can damage the autonomic nervous system. Because this system is so essential in the injury and recovery process, if it’s damaged, you can be left in a condition where you experience persistent symptoms and post-concussion syndrome. We have clinically observed that patients’ autonomic nervous system is rarely thoroughly evaluated by doctors and healthcare providers and often can be a missing link to finally healing from a brain injury.
Here is a list of some symptoms you might experience with autonomic dysfunction:

  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Chest discomfort
  • Brain fog or mental cloudiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty standing still
  • GI dysfunction
  • Incontinence
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold or heat intolerance
  • Too little or too much sweat production
  • Headache

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Common Causes of Concussions

Car Accidents

A car accident occurs, on average, every 5-10 seconds. As long as your injuries are not life-threatening, most doctors will not evaluate you properly for a concussion or brain injury. You can go months, if not years, undiagnosed with a traumatic brain injury following a motor vehicle accident. It only takes speeds of 5-10 mph to generate a significant enough G-force to damage the soft tissues in your neck. Those forces will continue to travel upwards into your skull and slosh your brain around. You don’t even have to hit your head to suffer a concussion; you just need to whip the brain around enough in the skull to damage it.

After a car accident, your adrenaline will be pumping, masking any symptoms you might be experiencing. Once that adrenaline wears off, you will start to feel what has changed. Most are unaware of what concussion or traumatic brain injury symptoms look or feel like, so they often write them off and assume it’s a byproduct of the car accident, expecting them to heal eventually. People are left lost and discouraged when the injuries don’t resolve themselves.

Fortunately, it is never too late to get evaluated. Even if it has been years since the accident, our brains often still have the capacity to grow and strengthen.

Sports Injury

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be at risk for a concussion in sports. 10% of concussions come from sports or recreational activities. Sports like football, soccer, hockey, basketball, surfing, snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, horseback riding, rugby, and lacrosse are some of the most common causes. With young athletes, this is often unreported. They do not want to admit anything is wrong, so they can keep playing. Some are okay with sacrificing their body to achieve their goal; they have no idea the gravity of living with a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

Once you have sustained a concussion, your risk of having another increases. Repeat concussions increase your risk of having long-term symptoms. We have yet to meet an athlete that doesn’t wish they had known more in advance and possibly done things differently if they could go back in time. Understanding the risks is good practice with anything in life.

Slips and Falls

As mentioned before, you do not need to hit your head to suffer a concussion, and as we age, our tissues are not as durable as they were when we were younger. One in three adults over the age of 65 fall every year. Some of these falls are mild and people can recover fully. Others are more life-threatening, sometimes resulting in brain bleeds and leaving people in a coma.

Brain injuries are not an uncommon result of falls. Those suffering from a brain injury after age 65 are at higher risk of having persistent symptoms—all the more reason to pay attention to your motor skills and improve your balance. Fall risk is too dangerous to leave untouched.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chiropractor in San Diego, California help with a concussion?

Yes, a chiropractor can help with a concussion. That being said, not all chiropractors are fully equipped to do this. The chiropractors in our clinic have extensive post-doctoral education in concussion/traumatic brain injury and neurological rehabilitation. This allows them to better evaluate your injury and custom tailor a roadmap to recovering from your concussion.

What are five symptoms of a concussion?

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries can present as a multitude of different symptoms. Some of the more common ones are headaches, dizziness, problems with focus and concentration, and poor memory.

Is it safe to sleep with a concussion?

It is an old school of thought that you should not fall asleep with a concussion because you will fall into a coma. This is factually false. The new train of thought is you should get plenty of rest. Your body needs rest to aid in the recovery process.

How do I check for a concussion?

A doctor’s evaluation is the best way to check for a concussion. The doctors at our clinic provide one of the most thorough concussion evaluations in San Diego. The more comprehensive your evaluation is, the more accurate your diagnosis is.

What does Chiropractic Neurology treatment for a concussion in San Diego, California look like?

Treatment is dictated based on your exam findings. Some of the types of treatment offered are Vagus nerve treatment, autonomic therapy, vestibular therapy, visual therapy, balance therapy, proprioceptive therapy, and many other neurological modalities.

Can concussion damage be reversed?

Following a concussion, most people will heal and return to 100%. That being said, not all people are made equal, and concussion symptoms can persist in some instances. Early intervention provides the best prognosis, but even those who have suffered for years have the potential to recover.

How long after hitting your head can symptoms start?

This changes case-by-case but can be as soon as immediately following the initial trauma or up to a week later in some instances. However, people will typically experience symptoms within the first few days following a concussion.

How long does a concussion usually last?

Although the majority of the symptoms will typically subside in one to four weeks, 20% of cases have symptoms that persist for months or even years. Research has shown that the earlier the proper intervention is provided the better outcomes for concussion sufferers. Our office specializes in diagnosing and treating concussions sustained recently or even years out.

How do I know if I have a concussion?

Typically people will know if they get a concussion if they are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above. However, in some cases, people may not realize that they’ve experienced one until a specialist has taken a look at them. In some instances, imaging may be clean but you still may be experiencing symptoms too. This is why it is important to be looked at by a specialist.

How serious is a mild concussion?

Even minor concussions can lead to long term symptoms as well as a susceptibility to suffering from another concussion. This 2nd concussion typically is worse than the first and can lead to more severe symptoms.

We are here to help!

The brain’s amazing ability to heal through the process of neuroplasticity allows us to help people who may have sustained a concussion years in the past and are still experiencing symptoms. See our blog for more concussion information, and reach out to us for a consultation if you have sustained a concussion and/or are experiencing symptoms. We would love to help you.

If you or someone you know is looking for help or has questions about the above condition please click on the button below to set up a consultation with one of our doctors.

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