A concussion is defined as any traumatic injury involving either; a blow to the head, or a hit to the body causing the head (and brain within) to move about in a violent jerking motion. The effects of a concussion can last anywhere from a matter of hours to a few weeks. In fewer cases, symptoms may persist beyond a few months and residual effects of the trauma may still be experienced for years after the initial injury.
Trauma to the head results in the muscles of the neck, upper and sometimes lower back seizing up, also known as a protective spasm. The purpose of the spasm at the time of the impact is to protect the spine from excessive motion which could otherwise damage the spinal cord. Although this spasm initially serves a protective purpose, in the longer term it results in headaches, stiffness and pain of the neck, shoulders and back. Excessive tension is also often found in the cranial bones as well as the dura (the protective sheath covering the brain and spinal cord). The effect of this excess tension within the structures surrounding the brain, in combination with the muscle spasm is compromised brain circulation. Improper fluid drainage from the brain impedes the healing process by hindering adequate circulation of oxygen and nutrient dense blood supply to the brain. In addition, waste products produced by the inflammatory process in the brain are recirculated, resulting in the reduced capacity for healing of the brain.
What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?
- Loss of consciousness following the blow
- Pain in the head and neck
- Visual disturbances
- Sensitivity to light and sound stimulus
- Cognitive impairment e.g. memory loss, inability to focus, confusion (brain fog)
- Ringing in the ears(tinnitus)
- Persistent nausea
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
How Can Osteopathy Help?
Gentle soft tissue techniques are utilised to address the muscle spasm in the neck, upper and sometimes lower back. Craniosacral therapy is also used to effectively relieve abnormal tensions in the cranial bones and the dura, thereby improving circulation to the brain to promote healing. Secondly, craniosacral treatment reduces sympathetic output, that is, taking the nervous system out of the ‘fight or flight’ response which can reinforce excessive muscle tension and restriction in the cranial bones. By balancing excessive tensions in the muscles, cranial bones and the dura, the body’s ability to heal itself is restored.