Dizziness, neck pain, and headaches are very common symptoms that may or may not occur at the same time. Though this interrelationship exists, this month’s article will focus primarily on dizziness, particularly related to dizziness that occurs after standing.
Migraines can be life-altering! They can stop us from being able to enjoy a child’s piano recital, participate in family events, go to work, or simply do household chores! Wouldn’t it be nice to have ways to self-manage these miserable, often disabling headaches? Here are some options!
Whiplash (or WAD – whiplash associated disorders) can be defined by a sudden movement of the head and neck beyond its normal range of motion resulting in pain and stiffness and less often, numbness and tingling in the arms and hands. Prognosis is a term associated with a predicted outcome of a condition with the passage of time, either with or without treatment. A condition is considered “stable” when symptoms aren’t changing and are not likely to change significantly over the next several months to a year. In general, recovery may depend on the severity of the injury. Usually, minor whiplash injuries will resolve completely within approximately one to two weeks, moderate whiplash injuries within approximately four to eight weeks, and severe whiplash may or may not completely “resolve.” Rather, severe whiplash may result in a chronic condition which may lead to a permanent reduction or a complete loss of certain functions. There are “risk factors” that can result in either a prolonged recovery or just a partial recovery, regardless of the degree of injury which makes the process of prognosing whiplash cases challenging. Let’s take a closer look!
Fibromyalgia (FM) causes widespread pain to an estimated 5.8 million Americans. FM is considered a “musculoskeletal disorder” even though many of the symptoms include other systems, especially the gastrointestinal system, as conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) often co-exist. It is thought that FM is a disorder that amplifies the manner in which the brain processes pain, making the body’s pain receptors hypersensitive. For example, FM can result in a 3/10 pain level (normally tolerated) being amplified to 7 or 8/10, enough to interfere with daily activities. FM often follows some type of severe physical or mental trauma, such as a car accident, surgery, or a significant psychological stress. The widespread pain results in fatigue, sleep deprivation, depression, and more. The following are ten of the most common symptoms associated with FM:
Headaches (HA) can be tremendously disabling, forcing sufferers away from work or play into a dark, quiet room to minimize any noise and light that intensifies the pain. According to the National Headache Foundation, there are over 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic, re-occurring headaches, of which 28 million are of the migraine variety. Also, approximately 20% of children and adolescents deal with headaches that can interfere significantly with their daily routines. There are many different types of headaches and many sub-types within the main categories. Here are a few: Tension HA (also, called cervicogenic HA), migraine, mixed headache syndrome (a mixture of migraine and tension HAs), cluster (less common but the most severe), sinus headaches, acute headaches, hormone headaches, chronic progressive headaches (traction or inflammatory HAs), and MANY more! Just “GOOGLE” “headache classification” for the daunting list! Let’s take a look at how chiropractic manages these headaches!
According to a study completed in 2005, a review of the published literature revealed good evidence that intensity and frequency of HAs are indeed helped by chiropractic intervention. They limited their review to cervicogenic headaches and spinal manipulation and noted the need for larger scale studies. The well-respected Cochrane database reported spinal manipulation (SM) as an effective treatment option with short-term benefits similar to amitriptyline, a commonly prescribed medication for migraine HA patients.
For cervicogenic HA, the combination of neck exercises and SM was found to be effective in both the short- and long-term, and SM was superior to massage or placebo (sham or “fake” manipulation). Regarding the question of treatment frequency of SM plus up to two modalities (heat and soft tissue therapy), a preliminary study found that when comparing patients receiving one, three, or four visits per week for three weeks, those receiving 9-12 treatments during the three weeks had the most benefit. Regarding the questions, “what is affected by SM” and, “why does SM work” for cervicogenic HA patients, a study describes the intimate relationship between the upper cervical nerve roots (C1-3), the trigeminal (cranial nerve V), the spinal accessory (cranial nerve XI), and the vascular system. Inflammation within these structures and their relationship with the trapezius and SCM muscles help us understand the “why” and “how” of SM and referred pain pattern to the face and head in those with cervicogenic HAs. Realizing this is a bit “technical”, feel free to GOOGLE these structures and you’ll appreciate the close proximity they have to each other and how adjustments, or SM, applied to the upper cervical spine can affect this region. It has also been reported that SM and strengthening of the deep neck flexor muscles benefits the cervicogenic HA patient. Many HA sufferers have combinations of symptoms including dizziness, neck pain, concentration “fog”, fatigue, and others, which were found to also respond to SM applied to the upper cervical spine. One study reported a 36% reduction in pain killer medication use in a group of cervicogenic headache patients receiving SM but no reduction in the patient group receiving soft-tissue therapy. The list of research studies goes on and on! So WHAT are you waiting for? TRY CHIROPRACTIC for your headache management!!!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for headaches, we would be honored to render our services.
Exercise is an important part of whiplash treatment and is often overlooked by both patients and doctors. We will focus on several practical and effective exercises over the next several Health Updates. The first of this series can be called “brain exercises.”
This link offers you a 37 page PDF of a booklet that contains GREAT information and includes the exercises reviewed below:
Brain Exercise #1: Eyes Still, Move Head. Hold a pen a comfortable distance in front of your eyes and keep looking at it as you rotate your head from side to side ten times. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying after resting. Repeat three times a day.
Brain Exercise #2: Head Still, Move Eyes. Keep your head still (move only your eyes) while you move the pen left to right as far as you can ten times without losing sight of the pen. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying later in the day. Repeat three times a day.
Brain Exercise #3: Standing Balance Test. Stand with your feet close together (or, feet shoulder width apart if you feel unsteady). You should feel steady for 30 seconds with your eyes open AND closed. Try it (count to 30)! If you feel unsteady, this exercise should be repeated often until you feel improvement with the eyes closed! A variation is to place one foot in front of the other, switching feet after each test. Notice this one is more difficult. A third position is standing on ONE foot (switch sides after each test) with the eyes open AND again closed. This one is REALLY hard! Stand near a counter or corner of a room to “catch” yourself – don’t fall.
Notice that these exercises are NOT neck specific; there are others exercises for that. Rather, these incorporate eye/head movements, coordination/balance challenges and address symptoms such as dizziness, headache, post-concussion symptoms (memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc.), and others. These exercises can be very helpful as they “exercise” our neuropathways, or the “wiring” within our nervous system so that information flows freely to and from our brain, spinal cord, and our various body parts. These help us function safer and better in ALL of our desired daily activities! We can train you in these exercises if you feel uncomfortable doing these on your own.
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for Whiplash, we would be honored to render our services.