Is It Normal To Have Neck Pain After A Concussion?

A grimacing man sits in a chair holding his neck due to dealing with neck pain after a concussion.

Concussions are not uncommon types of traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially among athletes. However, even non-athletes will likely experience a concussion due to other traumatic events such as a car accident or a fall.

In fact, behind athletic injuries, car accidents are the second leading cause of concussions. The CDC estimates that roughly 1.7 million TBIs occur annually in the US. Of those, the overwhelming majority will incur some form of neck injury that will cause long-term neck pain on top of other symptoms associated with a concussion—such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, brain fog, light sensitivity, and heavy fatigue.

If you’re among the many Americans experiencing neck pain after a concussion, this article can help you understand why and detail treatment options.

What Are the Lingering Effects of a Concussion?

Make no mistake, concussions—even mild ones—are serious injuries. To incur a concussion or any other TBI, an individual’s skull will experience considerable trauma either from a jolt or blow to the head. This sudden movement causes the brain to rapidly move within the skull which can damage the brain.

While some people may fully recover from concussions quickly, some may experience symptoms for weeks, months, or even longer. Symptoms commonly associated with concussions can include:

  • Headaches or pressure in the head
  • Balance issues
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Brain fog or trouble concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • General malaise
  • Severe neck pain

These symptoms typically appear soon after the injury. However, some may appear days later.

Because concussions are the result of violent bumps or jolts such as from a sports injury, car accident, or a severe fall, they are often accompanied by neck pain. Think about the amount of force required to cause your brain to bounce around to such an extent. That force is also being exerted on the muscles and ligaments in your neck and can severely damage it as well.

Such force can come from seemingly minor accidents. For example, it only takes a 5 mph car collision to create soft tissue damage in the neck and 12 mph to change the shape of the neck. It’s very likely that this force can damage the muscles, ligaments, discs, and joints in your neck and cause neck pain.

Symptoms of Concussion-Related Neck Pain

Much like other symptoms, neck pain can show up immediately or appear weeks to months after the initial trauma.

Neck pain after a concussion can manifest itself in various ways such as:

  • Stiffness
  • Sharp pain
  • Tension
  • Pain occurring from specific movements

If you’re experiencing neck pain after a concussion, you shouldn’t take the symptoms lightly.

It’s also worth noting that failing to have neck pain treated could have other negative impacts. Because trauma that causes concussions can also alter the curvature of the neck, when left untreated it can lead to other health issues down the line such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Altered blood flow to the brain
  • Neurological issues

If you’re experiencing neck pain within a few weeks after suffering a concussion, there’s a chance it may resolve on its own. However, if symptoms persist after a few months, it’s time to seek medical care.

How Chiropractors Can Help With Neck Pain After a Concussion

The trauma from a concussion can damage the tissue and joints in the neck or even alter the alignment of the spine, leading to long-term pain that can negatively impact your life. This is where chiropractic care can help alleviate pain and treat the cause.

There are some treatments you can do for yourself to help cope with symptoms such as:

  • Improving sleep posture
  • Staying hydrated
  • Applying ice and heat to the area

However, these will only offer a temporary reprieve from symptoms. A visit to a chiropractor will involve a personal assessment to identify the severity of the injury and create a treatment plan.

Your chiropractor should administer x-rays to identify if you have altered your normal spinal alignment and ensure there are no ligament sprain. Certain treatment routes with damaged ligaments would not be beneficial. If it is discovered that there isn’t ligament damage, soft tissue and muscle treatments will be applied to restore the range of motion. Low-force techniques will be utilized for the first few weeks and after pain has been reduced, gentle adjustments to the neck itself will be made.

Regardless of the specific path taken, chiropractic care for neck pain after a concussion will provide immediate and spinal curvature correction will provide long-term pain relief that will also prevent future health concerns from arising. Patients with altered neck curvature who seek chiropractic care are also likely to experience heightened neurological function when the neck is returned to its natural aligned state.

When seeking chiropractic care for neck pain, it’s important to make sure you’re receiving the best possible treatment.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® for Neck Pain After a Concussion

When it’s time to seek care for neck pain after a concussion, receiving chiropractic care from a provider who specializes in Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP can make all the difference. The staff at PostureWorks uses CBP to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses the fundamental causes of your neck pain in addition to providing an in-depth assessment of your neck injury.

CBP takes an advanced look at the shape of your neck and its curvature to note any misalignment that could have occurred after trauma. This allows PostureWorks to create a comprehensive plan to not only alleviate symptoms that cause pain but also to restore your neck’s natural curvature to allow for optimal brain function. With CBP, the professionals at PostureWorks will get you back to living your life free of neck pain.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique that aims to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. CBP is a conservative, evidence-based, and non-invasive way to minimize and/or eliminate back and neck pain. To learn more about how to alleviate your neck pain after a concussion or to schedule your appointment with the experienced team at PostureWorks, contact us today.

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