What is a concussion, how it affects your neck and can chiropractic help?

A concussion is an injury to the brain as a result of direct trauma to anywhere in the body which transmits an impulsive force to the head. This impact can occur during sporting activities, car accidents and even through blasts in a warzone.

The direct trauma, blast injury and rapid acceleration-deceleration of the head can cause swelling which compresses the brain resulting in short term neurological impairment.

A person who experiences a car accident which leads to a whiplash injury – is actually caused by the tendons and ligaments within the neck that have stretched and torn. The surrounding soft tissues are forced to extend beyond their normal range of motion. Therefore, a person may feel neck pain and stiffness, headaches at the base of the skull, dizziness, blurred vision and/or constant tiredness.

Symptoms can progress hours to days after the impact has occurred and persist years later.

The clear signs on a concussion include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Impact seizure
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory impairment
  • Balance disturbance
  • Dazed blank stares

A concussion can affect memory, judgement, reflexes, speech, balance and muscle coordination. People often forget what happened immediately before and after the injury – this is known as anterograde and retrograde amnesia.

When a person is suspected as having a concussion – immediate removal from the activity is required (especially for athletes) and first aid protocols need to be administered. This means efficiently assessing the airway, their breathing, circulation and the likelihood of a disability.

If the person has a loss of consciousness, neck pain and/or the mechanism of injury was very serious, a cervical spine injury should be suspected. In this case, manual inline stabilisation of the neck and a hard collar should be fitted until this particular injury is ruled out.

Interesting fact: There is no single test that can determine whether someone has sustained a concussion, your doctor may not order blood tests or medical imaging unless they suspect more serious injuries.

80 to 90 percent of cases will recover quickly (within two weeks), and some may experience their symptoms for several weeks before they begin recovery. According to the Return to Play guidelines, a person can commence activity once all acute symptoms have completely disappeared and has been approved by their doctor.

10 to 20 percent of people will continue to show symptoms for weeks, months or years after the injury and is commonly diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS).

The worst-case scenario involves a person suffering two concussions within a short period of time and unfortunately developing Sudden Impact Syndrome.

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Headache is worse or doesn’t go away
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Significant nausea or repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to wake up
  • Symptoms have worsened at any time
  • Symptoms have not gone away after 10-14 days
  • History of multiple concussions

Those that have been diagnosed with PCS after concussion and display symptoms of dizziness, headaches, neck pain and tenderness may have cervicogenic dysfunction.

Chiropractic care and physical therapy play an important role in the recovery of the neck and the surrounding soft tissues. Simple exercises are given to build strength and flexibility in the neck.

Good posture as well as relaxation techniques are recommended to avoid excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments that stabilise the neck.

At Sims & Finn our chiropractors utilise Neuro-structural correction which may help address your concerns.

We focus on finding and correcting the primary cause of your symptoms.

To make an appointment, please either book online via our website, or call our friendly staff.

Sims & Finn Chiropractic

52 Stud Road, Dandenong 3175

(03) 9792 1945







McArthur T and Olson H (2019), “Concussion management in an adolescent football player using individualized rehabilitation along with spinal manipulation: a case report,” Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic, Vol 2 (2019), https://journal.parker.edu/index.php/jcc/article/view/49 retrieved 15 April 2019

Giza C and Hovda D (2014), “The New Neurometabolic Cascade of Concussion,” Neurosurgery: Oxford Academic/ Congress of Neurological Surgeons, https://academic.oup.com/neurosurgery/article-abstract/75/suppl_4/S24/2453619 retrieved 16 April 2019

Makdissi M, Darby D and Maruff P (2010), “Natural History of Concussion in Sport: Markers of Severity and Implications for Management,” The American Journal of Sports Medicine, https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546509349491 retrieved 16 April 2019

Makdissi M, Davis G and McCrory P (2014), “Updated Guidelines for the management of Sports-Related Concussion in General Practice,” Neurology (Australian Family Physician), Volume 43, No 3 March 2014, https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2014/march/sports-related-concussion/ retrieved 16 April 2019