Gentle Relief for Chronic Concussion Symptoms
by Eric Winder, DC
Most concussion injuries are mild, and symptoms heal quickly. However, for some people, concussion symptoms can last for months or even years after the injury supposedly heals. Headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and neck pain are some of the problems that can persist. Fortunately, these symptoms are often relieved by gentle fascia release therapies.
In this country, over three million people suffer from concussions each year. These injuries are mostly diagnosed by symptoms because concussion does not show on MRI or CT scans. This lack of test findings means that when symptoms from such a mild brain injury last beyond the normal recovery time, the reason is usually unknown. But the success of hands-on fascia therapies to improve or eliminate persistent symptoms points to the connective tissue called fascia as a source of these problems.
As an example, a short while ago, a patient I will refer to as Bill came into our office for help with lower back pain and concussion symptoms that started six months prior. Bill stood beneath an open cabinet door in his garage which caused the concussion injury. While the nausea and disorientation that appeared at the time of injury disappeared, he still had frequent headaches, neck pain, dizziness and difficulty concentrating at times.
On examination, Bill exhibited subtle stiffening of the fibrous connective tissue (or fascia) around the area of the original injury, as well as on both sides of his upper neck and mid-back. Sudden impact to the body can cause a change in fascia where the connective tissue stiffens. Because our “position sense” for coordinated motion comes from fascia, this stiffening can disturb position sense and cause abnormal muscle tension and joint alignment. This can result in pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.
After one treatment, the intensity of Bill’s headaches decreased greatly. Over a course of several visits, his mental focus returned to normal, the headaches disappeared, and his neck stiffness decreased. His lower back pain disappeared also.
Bill was surprised that he achieved so much relief from such a gentle hands-on therapy. Because the stiffness in fascia from injury is caused by the nervous system, not an “adhesion” in the fibrous tissue, treatment does not require much force. Instead, the therapy used at our office utilizes precise, light pressure to reflexively trigger relaxation of tight fascia. When explaining this to patients, I often compare the treatment to popping a dent from a can. The tissue is returned to normal, and it remains that way.
Again, the reason fascial stiffening can contribute to head injury symptoms might be due to glitches in proprioception, or position sense. Most of the nerve endings for position sense are embedded in fascia, so the stiffening that can occur from head impact can cause subtle confusion in the body’s position sense, leading to abnormal muscle tension, nerve irritation, dizziness and other symptoms.
One effective way to help chronic issues from head injury is to treat the restriction in the fascia. If you or a loved one suffer from lasting, unresolved symptoms after a head injury, I recommend an evaluation by a practitioner experienced in using fascial therapy to treat persistent concussion symptoms.
Dr. Eric Winder has 24 years in practice with a focus on pain relief and restoration of alignment and motion. He uses fascia release therapies, without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit GentleBay.com.