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Post-Concussion Syndrome and the Cervical Spine

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) has gotten more buzz lately due to high-profile football players. Players like Jim McMahon have suffered for years with PCS. Doctors even suspect that some players have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which currently can only be diagnosed postmortem. In the video below, you will see how Jim McMahon’s condition is largely due to a misalignment of the head and the neck.

According to the literature, PCS happens in about 10-15% of individuals that have a concussion. Of those individuals, most of them experience one or all the following symptoms:

  • Headaches (Tension or Migraine)
  • Vertigo/Dizziness
  • Brain Fog or Difficulty Concentrating
  • Memory Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Cognitive Dysfunction

Now, let’s compare that to common symptoms of a whiplash injury:

  • Neck Pain
  • Headaches
  • Vertigo/Dizziness
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive Dysfunction


As you can see, the symptoms of whiplash and PCS are very similar. This is because both involve a high amount of force to the upper cervical spine- the area where the skull meets the top two bones of the neck called the Atlas and Axis. It takes approximately 50-60 g’s to cause a mild brain injury or concussion. Compare that to approximately 10 g’s, which is the number of G-Forces it takes to cause damage to the muscles and ligaments of the upper cervical spine. Therefore, it is very likely that when an individual suffers a concussion, they will also suffer damage to the upper cervical spine.

When an injury to the upper cervical spine occurs, there is often damage done to surrounding ligaments that hold the spinal vertebrae together. This can lead to instability and misalignment of the upper cervical spine. NUCCA specializes in correcting the misalignment with NO twisting, pulling, cracking or popping to stabilize the upper cervical spine. Often, corrections made by NUCCA doctors hold much longer than traditional chiropractic. This leads to excellent results with patients who suffer from PCS.

Schedule your complimentary consultation to see how Dr. Strazewski can help you!

  1. Leddy J, Baker J, Merchant A et al. Brain or Strain? Symptoms alone do not distinguish physiologic concussion from cervical/vestibular injury. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015 May; 25(3): 237-242
  2. Marshall C, Vernon H, Leddy J, Baldwin B. The role of the cervical spine in post-concussion syndrome. Physician Sportsmedicine. 2015 Jul; 43(3): 274-284.
  3. Ellis M, Leddy J, Willer B. Physiological, vestibulo-ocular, and cervicogenic post-concussion disorders:  an evidence-based classification system with directions for treatment. Brain Injury. 2015; 29(2): 238-248.