I recently met a new patient who presented with acute neck pain after an apparent seizure. She had very sharp pain in her neck and upper back, as well as very diminished range of motion. This patient was very similar to many neck pain patients I see in my Muskegon chiropractic practice. However, during her initial consultation, I discovered something very interesting. In her recent past, she sustained a very serious head injury which resulted in a subdural bleed. Although she had surgery on her brain which alleviated the bleed, she experienced bouts of neck pain later as a result. The most recent seizure, likely a result of the initial head injury, caused a very sharp rotation of the neck, greatly exacerbating her neck pain symptoms, which is why she came in to see me at Zehr Chiropractic.
Upon examining her spine and taking Atlas Orthogonal x-rays, it was apparent that her neck problem had been lingering for quite some time. She was already showing signs of degenerative disc disease in her neck (which is very atypical for a 40 year old) and some very severe biomechanical abnormalities in her spine and pelvis. To put it plainly, her problem had been there way before her recent flare up. The good news is, after her first atlas adjustment, her neck range of motion improved dramatically and the acute tenderness in her neck was all but gone. I have full confidence that she will do very well under my care and expect her to “graduate” with a pretty normal spine after her treatment plan is completed.
However, we are left to wonder how long she would have dealt with her neck problem had she not suffered that seizure. She most likely would have stuck it out with the tightness and discomfort until it became a “crisis.” It may have been weeks, months, or years, but it eventually would have happened. It is amazing to me how bad a person’s spine can get before the more severe symptoms show up. People will put up with loss of motion, muscle tightness, decreased sleep quality, and some pain for quite a while. The spine and pelvis will no doubt compensate to keep the pressure off until “it” happens. And “it” could be a slip on the ice, “sleeping wrong,” or working in the garden. Of course, when the “it” happens, the proverbial straw breaks the camel’s back and the patient seeks treatment for a problem that has most likely been lurking for years.
The moral of the story is that if you or someone you know has EVER sustained a head injury, the delicate tissues of the upper neck have most likely been damaged, even if the resulting symptoms are not that debilitating (yet). Upper cervical injuries often lead to neck pain, headaches, dizziness, nausea, migraines, and extremity pain, to name a few. Just like your teeth, the spine will deteriorate and become unhealthy well before these symptoms show up. An evaluation with an Upper Cervical Specific Doctor of Chiropractic is a great idea to make sure the neck hasn’t sustained any damage that could become a long term problem if not dealt with immediately. The sooner the problem is discovered and treated, the odds of having a permanent correction improve dramatically. The longer you wait, the worse it gets and the longer it is going to take to fix. Taking a proactive approach may save you from lots of trouble down the road.