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Solutions For Post-Concussion Syndrome With Dr. Jeff Scott

a month ago

A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. When you get one, the initial response would be to check the brain. Unfortunately, some people still struggle with blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, tremors, and knee pain. If this is familiar to you, you may have post-concussion syndrome caused by accumulated small blows on your head. The solution you might be looking for is to go down from your brain to your neck. In this episode, Dr. Jeff Scott joins Dr. Kevin Pecca to tell us all about that. He takes us through the ins and outs of post-concussion syndrome and how the injury can be from a misalignment in the upper neck and not the brain. He also lists some neurological symptoms and offers solutions to fix them in upper cervical care. Join Dr. Jeff Scott as he shares a new perspective on how to recover from post-concussion syndrome.

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Listen To The Episode Here

Solutions For Post-Concussion Syndrome With Dr. Jeff Scott

This episode is brought to you by Setex. You can visit SetexGrip.com for the best gripping technology on your eyeglasses, earbuds, phones, and gaming controllers. Our readers get 25% off when using the promo code DrPecca25 at checkout. I love Setex Grip. I use them myself for my earbuds when I'm working out. They do not fall out as they used to. After going to the gym, everything stays in place. It's a great company. I love that they are our sponsors. Check them out.

This episode is about Post-concussion syndrome, what to do if you have Post-concussion syndrome, how to get help, and how upper cervical care is great at alleviating Post-concussion symptoms. It's the reason why I got into upper cervical chiropractic. For years, I struggled with blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, depression, hand tremors, and knee pain. I thought my life was completely over. I went to a neurologist. I went to primary care physicians and ENTs. My CAT scans, blood work, and MRIs were all coming back clear.

I was losing my mind because I thought my wife was over. I didn't think there were any answers, and upper cervical chiropractic completely saved my life. It's why I do the upper cervical work. We are making this episode for you or a loved one. If you are going through Post-concussion syndrome, please share this. There is hope. There is help out there for you. If you have any questions about it, please reach out to me. I would love to be of service. In this episode, we also have Dr. Jeff Scott on the show. We both work at Montclair Upper Cervical in West Orange, New Jersey. We are Blair chiropractors. Check him out on Instagram. I hope you enjoy this episode.

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This episode is brought to you by Setex Grip. You can visit SetexGrip.com for the best gripping technology on your eyeglasses, earbuds, phones, and gaming controllers. Our readers get 25% off when using the promo code DrPecca25 at checkout. This episode is very special to me and to Dr. Jeff. It's the reason why I got into upper cervical chiropractic. We are talking about Post-concussion syndrome. I've had several concussions from ice hockey and among other things. Dr. Jeff's had a few from rugby, and probably even a little bit of any soccer concussions, Jeff?

There's nothing concussion level but head knocks.

We are going to go over the ins and outs of what a concussion is, how to get help and everything that goes into getting care and getting better. Explain the concussions a little bit more because some people don't know if they have a concussion, don't know when they can return to play, and what route to take even to get better. We are going to jump into all of that. Dr. Jeff, we are starting with symptoms of concussions here. What are some neurological symptoms that can happen after a head injury?

Some of the big ones are headaches, first and foremost. That's the one that most people associate with concussions. We can continue to get a little bit deeper. I know some of my concussions were sensitivity to sound and light. Some people get dizzy. Some people get nauseous. Some people probably can have some ringing in the ears as well. One of the best that I ever heard was from a teammate of mine. He described it for those of you who have been through this. They said it almost feels like the world's worst possible hangover. Your body is not functioning. It feels rundown. It feels like crap. It's so hard for you to focus. It's like brain fog. It takes time to function.

It's important to note that each individual concussion is different for each person. A lot of people will have similar symptoms. You will also get symptoms that another person doesn't have. It's unique to the individual. I had hand tremors and severe knee pain. A lot of people report high anxiety, heart palpitations, and depression, something that they didn't have before the injury.

It's not only you have these neurological symptoms going on. It can affect your mood. You can have mood swings and the inability to feel emotions or be happy at times. It's a scary process to go through, first of all, because if you google how to get rid of Post-concussion syndrome, a lot of scary things pop up. I remember I did that when I first got my concussions. It's like, "You are never going to get better. This lasts forever."

That can put you in a depressing downward spiral. Whatever you do, I recommend not googling your symptoms because the worst-case scenario usually pops up. This show is here to show you that there is help, there are solutions, and you can heal from Post-concussion syndrome. Jeff, do symptoms happen right after the injury? Can there be a little delayed onset? How does that work?

There can be a delayed onset. It depends on the nature of the concussion and how you were hit. Did you have multiple bounce points? It all depends on the person and the conditions surrounding when you were hit. You can have that delayed onset, especially if it's a motor vehicle accident where you might have a high level of adrenaline. Adrenaline is going to override everything. If you are in a highlight fight or flight mode, you are going to be so dialed in that you might not notice the symptoms until hours or maybe a day or two later.

I remember Dr. Drew Hall down in Sarasota, Florida. He got into upper cervical because he had a bad concussion. His symptoms didn't show up until eight months later. He was fine for eight months, and his whole world started falling apart. It was tough for him to connect the dots because it didn't happen right away. He just thought he was dying.

His whole health, immune system, and neurological system started to shut down. He didn't know where it was coming from until he went to a naturopathic doctor that asked him if he had any head injuries in the past. It's very difficult for people to connect the dots because there can be a big delayed onset of symptoms. It doesn't take a huge concussive blow to get Post-concussion syndrome.

Dr. Jeff and I were talking about this before. It can be cumulative. You could have a bunch of minor ones that build up through your lifetime, and the last concussion you get, even if it's small where it's just the straw that broke the camel's back, that's when a lot of the neurological symptoms come up. For me, I had a bad one that I was completely fine for 2 or 3 weeks later. Somebody elbowed me in the face. I had a helmet on. It wasn't abnormal for the hockey game at all. Some people get those hits 4, 5 or 6 times a game. My teammates didn't see me get a concussion. I didn't think anything of it. I woke up 2 or 3 days later in a world of pain.

I didn't even know if I had a concussion because I was talking to my teammates. They are like, "We didn't even see you get hit." I was like, "I know, but I feel concussed now." It doesn't have to be a huge blow to the head. It can be a minor one. We are going to go over why that is and the structural components of the neck and the brain. That's what we want to go over in this episode. Most people, when they get a concussion, go to their primary care physician or the emergency room and do MRIs and CAT scans, which are important. They are checking to see if there's any internal bleeding of the brain or any swelling. That's very important.

Most of the time, those tests are going to come back negative. Even if those tests come back negative, it doesn't mean you are not concussed or don't have a concussion. It's a very good sign that there's no internal bleeding or nothing seriously wrong. After a concussion, most medical doctors look at the brain where the problem may be right below the brain in the upper neck. Jeff, why is that? After a post-concussion injury, why can the injury be in the upper neck and not the brain?

That's a good point that is not often addressed. As you and I talked about, usually, I would equate it to a whiplash injury. You've had other docs here on the show who have talked about the weight discrepancy between the head and the neck. The head is like putting a bowling ball on a stick. When you have a 13-pound bowling ball stacked on top of the stick, the stick is going to go with what's going on with the head. For example, to bring it real-time, when I had my first concussion, I knew that I was going into a tackle. I went to make the tackle. I bounced off the guy. That's probably one where my body changed direction rather quickly. That's going to put some tension on the neck.

I went and hit the ground, so now the initial injury is going to cause the neck to bell up, and the head is going to start to whip back. I hit the ground from what I could piece together. You have one knocked on one way, and another knocked on the other way, and you are going to bounce up and hit your head forward. Your neck in the whole process is moving back and forth, trying to hang on.

Oftentimes, people go right to the brain. Rightfully so, a concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. You want to make sure there's no bleeding, swelling or anything going around the brain. That's not the end of the process. You have to go and check the neck because the neck is probably something that was damaged or aggravated in that process.

When I was looking at stats for this episode, I came across one of our fellow upper cervical modalities, the NUCCA website. They paraphrased a study that found, "It takes about 60 Gs of force to concuss an adult human. It takes about 10 Gs of force to seriously damage the ligaments in the neck." When you put those numbers together, you can't get a concussion without getting a neck injury.

People usually stop at the head injury and won't continue further down and say, “If there are misalignments, subluxation, or trauma into the neck, if you don't address that, the brain might be going to slowly get better, but these symptoms are going to continue to linger because there's a ton of interference in the nervous system in a different spot.”

That is pretty much the message of the show. You can't get a concussion without damaging the upper neck. Here's why. As Dr. Jeff was saying, your head is a 10 to a 13-pound bowling ball. It is supported by the atlas and the axis, which weigh a couple of ounces. There are no disc spaces up here. It's a vulnerable area. It has the most neurological significance right here.

Every nerve in your body passes through this gateway here. When you have some type of head injury, car accident, sports injury, slip and fall down the stairs, and bang your head one way, not only are you banging your head, you are dislodging your upper neck out of place. You are causing some ligament damage up there because it's a very unstable area.

When you have an impact that, most of the time, the brain can swell. It can get some damage. Once that heals, you are still out of alignment up here, which is why the post-concussion symptoms can linger on for days, weeks, months or even years. When everybody clears your brain that it's okay, and all the tests, MRIs, and CAT scans are coming back perfect, nobody is taking a look at the upper neck to see if that's okay. When this misaligns, we are talking millimeters.

One millimeter can cause a huge neurological insult to the upper neck and the nervous system. It can cause brain fog, blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, numbness and tingling, and a pleura of neurological symptoms that are not being addressed through the standard Western medical route. That's where upper cervical chiropractic comes into play. Jeff, how do we fix this condition in upper cervical care? Let's start with that.

As with anything, it comes down to the analysis. You have to have an idea where the dysfunction or interference is occurring. You then have to be able to assess and see what's going on. In the Blair methodology, we do that in a couple of steps. The first one is figuring out what levels in the neck the bulk of the interference is coming from. Oftentimes it's usually C1. Right after that, it's C2.

As you were saying, that's right where the spinal cord drops out of the skull and into the upper neck. We know that if you break those two bones, that's it. Nothing else functions below that. We are not talking about something as severe as full body paralysis but that goes to show how sensitive that area is that when you have millimeter size misalignments, it's going to impact the nervous system.

Identify, first and foremost, where the interference is coming from. In our analysis, we use X-rays. We have the 3D cone beam at our office. By allowing everything, you see exactly how everything is lined up. You can then go through and put all that data together and say, "We know that at this level, the segment is doing this on one side and this on another side. We know there's the bulk of the interferences in this area. We now have an idea of what needs to get fixed, what direction, and how we need to position ourselves in a very optimal manner and move the joint back down its articulation to its ideal spot. That's going to facilitate healing and remove that pressure on the nervous system."

I want to talk about those 3D X-rays real quick because those are so important. Dr. Jeff and I both have practiced on plain film X-rays where you could hold and put up to the light. It gives you good information. It then was digital X-rays, which we both practiced with. That was a little bit better because you can visually draw and measure things but it's still a flat image.

When the 3D X-rays came into play about years ago, especially in the upper cervical world, it changed the game. You can take somebody's neck, put it in your hands, twist it, turn it, and do whatever you want with it. It's very easy to see the misalignment in a 3D image as opposed to a flat X-ray. You will still get great information from a flat X-ray.

What we have found is there were a couple of patients that weren't clearing out or doing as well as I would have liked when I had flat X-rays on them. We put them in the 3D scanner, and it completely changed the way we adjusted them. We were able to clear out more nerve interference, get everything flowing, and then they started getting better. If you are under upper cervical care and are not getting the results you are desiring, there are a couple of different reasons for that. Skill level of the practitioner, most often, I believe it's the imaging you're getting. If you can't see it, you can't fix it.

If you are under upper cervical care and are not getting the results you want, I highly recommend getting a 3D CBCT cone beam X-ray. Not every upper cervical office has one but you can go to an imaging center. You can possibly go to a dental or orthodental practice. If you can give that to your upper cervical chiropractor, he or she is going to have a way better analysis to help you get clear out the interference and gets your holding longer. That could be a game changer in your care.

Dr. Jeff and I have both seen it. It's becoming more popular. A lot more upper cervical doctors are gravitating towards 3D X-rays. It's still not used in every practice but if you can get a 3D X-ray on yourself and present it to your upper cervical doctor and are not getting the results you want, I believe your care is going to skyrocket. That's the gold standard, especially if you have a lot of upper cervical neurological issues.

We take the X-rays, and then what happens? Like Dr. Jeff says, we must navigate and see which segments are out of place. It could be 1, 1 and 2, or 1 and 3. Dr. Jeff and I have seen misalignments from C1 all the way down to C5. Every case is different. Every misalignment is unique to that person. You can't just give the same adjustment to every single person. It is completely customized to the patient to help them get as better as possible. What we like about upper cervical chiropractic, especially the concussions, is we say, “Holding is healing.”

Anybody that has been through concussions knows that people base their lives around doctor's appointments. You are seeing the neurologist on Monday and your primary care physician on Wednesday. You are going for vestibular therapy. You have 3, 4, or even 5 doctor's appointments a week. That is stressful in itself. In upper cervical care, we say, “Holding is healing.”

Our goal is to give you one neck adjustment and have it hold in place for weeks, months, to years, so your body starts to heal without a practitioner constantly intervening. It puts the power back in your hands to heal. Every couple of weeks, it starts to get better and better until the Post-concussion syndrome alleviates, is gone, and you get your life back.

You've had a couple of other docs in this show who have talked about this as well. A big thing with what we are doing is not just looking at symptoms. The symptoms are important. It helps us see how someone is responding because that's what you are measuring. That's what they are coming in with. That's what you are measuring on how symptoms are improving but it's going a level deeper than that. It's saying, "I'm not going to worry about the headache. I'm not going to worry about brain fog, blurred vision or light sensitivity. Where is this coming from? What is a potential root cause area that is allowing for the presence and persistence of these symptoms?"

That's where we are looking at in this upper neck area, what the alignments of these joints are, what structurally and neurological is going on, fixing that, and then giving the body a chance to heal. It's going to give us a lot more optimal chance to heal. The other side of that is if you have a concussion, you can and probably will get better. Like you were saying, Kevin, you have your first concussion, maybe two weeks. You were out of the woods and good but the flip side to that is now you've had a concussion, a trauma to the neck, and probably significantly decreased your body's capacity to handle any future head knocks, neck injury or trauma.

Therefore, and this is said outside of our field in chiropractic is, every concussion you have makes you more susceptible to having another concussion. The symptoms usually come back quicker and probably stronger. I would wager that a reason for that is if you are not looking at these other structural components and underlying root causes that are decreasing your body’s capacity to handle the trauma, now you've opened the door for these things to potentially get worse over time if you have more of them.

Another thing I wanted to touch on, and this is important for everybody but it's really important to athletes that are still in their sport and want to know when they can return to play. It's possible to return to play after Post-concussion syndrome. We've had a lot of college, and high school athletes return to play. Unfortunately, there isn't one textbook answer that you can give to somebody.

That's what's tricky about concussions. It's not like it's breaking your arm, rest for six weeks, put the cast on, take it off, do a little rehab, and then you will be back to play. Every case is different. Unfortunately, the timeline is not concrete. It's going to be a little bit different for everybody. Return to play guidelines, Jeff. What are your thoughts on that?

First and foremost, it goes based on symptoms. I know there are textbook guidelines. The NFL has its concussion protocols, so they are continuously monitoring but a lot of it goes based on symptoms. I can tell you for my first concussion when I had it, I was five weeks before I returned to play. Granted, I was in chiropractor school at the time. I was more attuned than someone who gets it in day-to-day life about, "I'm still having symptoms. I got to be careful." It always errs on the side of caution. I would wager that you should probably wait until you are at least 100% to get back out there.

You and I were talking about this before on what it leads to, especially with these studies now coming out about CTE. That's the thing. It's not just the want. It’s, “Are you giving your body a chance to heal?” If you go out and have another minor head knock, concussion or injury, you've never given your body a full chance to heal. I would say that you got to go based on how the person is feeling. You got to go based on their management and how they are responding. You titrate up. Depending on the sport, have them do non-contact practice and basic drills.

If it's football, can they run and throw? If it's ice hockey, can they skate up and down without getting dizzy? Can they do baseline passing and shooting drills where they feel normal? For soccer and rugby, can you make baseline passes? Can you do basic drills? It's the same thing with basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, all these sports. Can you do the fundamental drills and be okay? If that's the case, then you start titrating up from there. The nice thing is about the fact that this is getting talked about more and more. Not only are people more likely to get care after an injury, but now, you have more people who are aware of how to return somebody.

From an upper cervical standpoint, Dr. Jeff and I have been finding that it usually takes about 3 or 4 months to stabilize the neck. Symptomatically, even if you are feeling very good and are going back to a contact sport such as football, ice hockey or rugby, chances are you are going to knock yourself back out of alignment because it's a contact sport. It involves the head. If you get put out of alignment, we can always put it back in but the more uninterrupted healing of this thing in place, the faster you are going to heal.

If you are playing a contact sport like that, under upper cervical care, and wondering when you can return to play, I would give it four months of uninterrupted healing, where the ligaments and muscles can mold around the adjustment and stabilized. We don't want this to be an ongoing issue every couple of months or years. We want to fix the problem. If you have uninterrupted healing for about four months, it's going to vary a little bit, depending on the person's age, ligament stability, and other traumas.

If you can give it that four months where there is a lot of healing taking place, and like Dr. Jeff said, don't just jump right back into the contact. Start non-contact practices. Maybe even if it's hockey or something, get on the ice by yourself with 1 or 2 people and slowly get back. A lot of people ask us when they can lift weights again under care. Even if the person is a weightlifter, we know the person can lift a lot but we want you to start from where you are engaging your muscles again. We usually say, "Start with resistance bands, build that up, and then move to light dumbbells." You can then start to gradually work your way back up to where you are. It's the same type of thing returning to play sports.

Take it easy. Maybe go 15% to 20%. Maybe even a little less if you are first time out there. Gradually, pick it up until you are 100% symptom-free and your neck is feeling stable. Confidence is key after a concussion. You can probably get a little bit more injured when you are not feeling 100% confident in your sport. If you are shying away from things and are not feeling 100%, you are going to be more in a protective mode. You might do some things that are going to put you in a little bit more jeopardy. Feeling 100% out there and gaining that confidence are huge. Please do not rush the return to play.

The big thing too to add on to that, especially if you are playing a sport or an activity where you have had protection, like football, ice, hockey lacrosse, just because you are playing a sport where you might have head protection doesn't mean that you are not at significant risk of accumulating more trauma, especially if you've returned early. The equipment's there to provide protection but there comes the point in time where force going into your head and neck is still force going into your head and neck. Those things are only so good.

On top of that, it gets back to what we were talking about. You have a helmet around your head but your neck is still going to whip. That's still going to foster these issues that we are talking about. It's being careful about that. Just because you have pads and protection on doesn't make you invincible. That's there to protect you but you still got to be careful.

One of the main things I want to jump into is what to do if you have Post-concussion syndrome. If I read a blog like this, it would have saved me five years of my life. You have Post-concussion syndrome and are dealing with a lot of neurological symptoms. What do you do? Go to your primary care physician and get checked out. Get the MRI and CAT scan done if you can if it's a part of your insurance plan and you can afford it. That's great. It's going to rule out any serious swelling of the brain and pathological things. It's going to roll all that out, which is great. In my own experience, I don't think there's any medication out there that's going to get to the root cause and help you heal. It's going to mask your symptoms.

With those medications, there are also a lot of side effects that might add to all the other neurological things you have going on. If there is a doctor that's throwing a lot of medications at you, ask yourself, "Is this going to solve the root cause of my problem, or is this only going to mask the symptoms?" What we recommend if you have Post-concussion syndrome is instead of going to the upper cervical chiropractor, which we see is people's last resort, why not make that one of your first options? Maybe go to your primary care or a neurologist and see what they have to say.

If everything is looking good with the brain, because we said before, you can't have a concussion without damaging the upper neck, your first step is to get your upper neck checked by an upper cervical specialist. What Dr. Jeff and I recommend is we practice the Blair technique. We recommend that if you are trying to find a Blair chiropractor near you, go to BlairChiropractic.com and locate a doctor near you. Unfortunately, there aren't too many Blair chiropractors out there. There are about 6 or 7 upper cervical techniques that can help you out, Blair, NUCCA, knee-chest, orthospinology, etc.

There are about 7 or 8. They are all great. If you have an upper neck injury, they can all take care of it. There's a website called UpperCervicalCare.com. It has a comprehensive directory of every single upper cervical doctor in the world. Locate a doctor near you. If there are a couple of different options, look at the Google reviews. Look at the doctor's website. See which doctor resonates the most with you.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Dr. Jeff or me. We are both on Instagram. Reach out. We practice the Blair technique at Montclair Upper Cervical in West Orange, New Jersey. It's scary when you are going through this. You are not alone. We are here for you. We would love to help out. Jeff, do you have anything to add to that?

It gets back to a lot of the baseline stuff that we've talked about across the board. If you have had a concussion, give yourself time to heal. I don't say this lightly. You rushing back is not worth the game or two for a scholarship. If you are a high-level athlete, it's not the longevity of your career. The overall and long-term health of your brain, cognition, and body is worth so much more than trying to return too early. Despite what coaches, trainers, agents or whatever it might be, whatever they tell you, you got to have time to heal. If you don't believe that, look at all the concussion stuff that's going on with the NFL players.

That's what happens when you don't let this stuff heal. It builds and builds. I would wager that those families would want their family members here instead of having to deal with all this. I don't mean to be sad about that but that is a very serious thing to take into account. Give yourself time to heal. If you miss half a season, you will be better off coming back. You will be that much more efficiently next time. Take care of yourself. Give yourself a chance to heal because that's important.

That's a great point, Jeff. Take it from me. If your brain is not working correctly, your whole life is going to be miserable. You are not going to be able to function as a person. You are not going even to be able to act like yourself. Think. You are going to have too many neurological symptoms going on, where it's going to be impossible to function. I have been there.

I wish I had known about this before when I was going through all this because I thought my life was over. I was told my life was over by a couple of neurologists because they didn't know how to treat this. Take care of your brain. It's not worth injuring yourself for life. If you get under upper cervical care, it's possible to, over time, return to play. There are options out there for you. There is hope. We are here for you. If you have any questions, please reach out.

You can heal 100%. Give yourself a chance to do that, and then you can get back at it. That's what we want.

Everybody, thank you for reading. If you want us to cover any other topics like trigeminal neuralgia, migraines, numbness, and tingling, we got some more episodes coming. We are going to try to make more episodes on conditions and upper cervical care to help as many people out as we can. Everybody, have a great day. Thank you for reading. We will see you next episode.

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