Concussions: 5 Must Know Things That Interfere With Recovery

Concussions: 5 Must Know Things That Interfere With Recovery

By Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B

Whether it is from athletic injuries, motor vehicle accidents or falls that result in hitting your head, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a serious health problem in the United States. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, every year at least 1.7 million TBI’s occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries. The effects of a TBI can be devastating to those who suffer one, not to mention the enormous impact they have on loved ones. In most cases, many will recover from a TBI within a year. Those who don’t are left with little to no answers for their chronic condition and are often told the damage is permanent. Research has been heavily centered on understanding immune and autoimmune mechanisms, inflammation and energy production damage in the brain. Despite their best efforts to understand TBI’s, their results have yielded little if any treatment options. Once serious complications such as a bleed in the brain have been ruled out, the current medical paradigm is typically a “wait and see” approach. Because of the intricate interconnectedness of the pathways in the brain, surgery and medications have very limited effectiveness when it comes to treating TBI’s.

5 Things that Interfere with Recovery:

  • Multiple or repetitive head injuries
  • Absence of adequate rest post-injury
  • Severity of the injury
  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition

We know that trauma can result in injury to the brain. One of the biggest complicating factors of a brain injury is the inflammation it causes. During the initial stages of a head injury, this inflammation, while unpleasant, is beneficial for us. The presence of any of the 5 things that interfere with recovery can lead to a delay in the brain calming down the inflammation, creating a potential to spread to other areas of the brain. Allowing recovery time, reducing stress and eating well have a significant impact on reducing brain inflammation. One of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation is to slowly, carefully and frequently activate the injured areas of the brain. When this occurs, the nerves that are activated will release chemicals to tell the immune system to calm down.

Finding a specialist to help you recover your health after a concussion can be very challenging. Therefore, it is important you find a functional neurologist who can assess the following areas:

  • Balance & coordination
  • Eye movements
  • Sensory changes
  • Motor changes
  • Mood or cognitive changes
  • Vestibular function

The good news is that the brain has an amazing ability to heal itself when given the right conditions to do so. Cleaning up your diet and reducing potential inflammatory foods is a great way to start. In addition to this, doing exercises that are very specific to rehabilitating the damaged areas of the brain will have a profound impact on your recovery outcomes! Even if the injury occurred years ago, there is still hope for restoring function.

Copyright © 2017 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at www.coloradointegrativeneurology.com or email us at cin@coloradointegrativeneurology.com. A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.


Migraines & Myofascial Trigger Points

Migraines & Myofascial Trigger Points

By Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B

Migraines are a serious debilitating condition that has significant impact on ability to function with daily activities during an attack. Today, I’m going to discuss the relevance of myofascial trigger points in regards to migraines and how treatment can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of a migraine.
Myofascia is a term used to describe a muscle and the connective tissue found within and around the muscle1. Myofascial trigger points are a common source of pain. When pressed they will increase pain locally and will also result in referring pain to another part of the body1. Trigger points will also cause the muscle to shorten and tighten up resulting in a weak muscle1. This will also lead to decreased flexibility of the muscle, possibly irritate nearby nerves and create muscle imbalances leading to more trigger points1. It is believed that some of these trigger points found in the head and neck can trigger or contribute to migraine symptoms1–3.

Causes of Trigger Points

  • Repetitive movements
  • Sustained loading/lifting
  • Poor posture/sedentary lifestyle
  • Mental/emotional stress causing muscle tension
  • Direct trauma

According to Calandre et al, trigger points with referral patterns related to the site of migraine pain were found in 94% of migraine sufferers in their study4. The frequency and duration of the migraine attacks were also correlated with the trigger points with common sources coming from muscles of the jaw and base of the skull4. It is also believed that the trigger points increase activity in pain pathways leading to increased efficacy of pain perception in the brain2–4. Treatment directed at inactivating these trigger points is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of migraines2,4. The good news is that there are methods to detect and treat myofascial trigger points that may be related to your migraine symptoms. When looking for a health care practitioner to help you with your migraines, you should ask if they are skilled in both trigger point release and myofascial release.

References
  1. Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy – What Is It? http://www.myofascialtherapy.org/myofascial-therapy/index.html.
  2. Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C. Myofascial Head Pain. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2015;19(7):28. doi:10.1007/s11916-015-0503-2.
  3. Giamberardino MA, Tafuri E, Savini A, et al. Contribution of myofascial trigger points to migraine symptoms. J Pain. 2007;8(11):869-878. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2007.06.002.
  4. Calandre EP, Hidalgo J, García-Leiva JM, Rico-Villademoros F. Trigger point evaluation in migraine patients: an indication of peripheral sensitization linked to migraine predisposition? Eur J Neurol. 2006;13(3):244-249. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2006.01181.x.

Copyright © 2017 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at www.coloradointegrativeneurology.com or email us at cin@coloradointegrativeneurology.com. A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.


Why Our Brains Need Physical Exercise

Why Our Brains Need Physical Exercise

By Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B

We all know how important exercise is for our health but very few of us understand the impact it has on keeping our brains healthy. Over the last few decades, I’ve noticed a trend of increased sedentary lifestyles and kids struggling to pay attention and do well in school. In many curriculums they have decreased the number of hours for physical education. Our brains are designed to crave movement to keep them sharp and capable of learning new tasks throughout life.

In many ways, we can think of our brains as a machine that organizes how we interact with our environment. Every machine needs a battery or power source to keep it working. For the brain, this power source comes in the form of activation from nerve cells throughout the body, especially from muscles and joints. Gravity is one constant force that is always activating our nervous systems. Researchers have identified that in addition to losing muscle mass in space, astronauts will experience shrinkage of their brains. Many of them have to undergo cognitive therapies after a mission.

While gravity plays a significant role in keeping our brains healthy, it is not the only requirement. When we move our bodies, it will also activate neurons in joints and muscles that send signals to the brain. Our brains are constantly craving activation and by moving our bodies we are in essence charging up our brain to be able to handle a wide variety of other physical, emotional and mental tasks. When we don’t get exercise, our brain will respond to let us know to get moving. Our mental focus will become less sharp; we will often become easily irritated and frequently experience agitation. This is why kids are struggling so much in school to sit still and learn and may even experience emotional outbursts. Many of these children are now being labeled with ADHD when what is really going on is their brain is telling them they just need some time to play and exercise!

If you find yourself experiencing decreases in your mental focus and abilities or changes in your mood or behavior, try adding in some regular physical activity into your daily routines. Your brain will thank you!

Copyright © 2017 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at www.coloradointegrativeneurology.com or email us at cin@coloradointegrativeneurology.com. A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.


Introducing Colorado Integrative Neurology

Introducing Colorado Integrative Neurology

By Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B.

It is official! We have opened our doors and are accepting new patients. After practicing in Colorado for the last 6 years, we have observed and recognized a sincere need for more clinics that specialize in quality customized brain rehabilitation. With so many people suffering from brain injuries, neurological disorders and brain related symptoms we have made it our mission to be part of the solution here in Colorado and the Denver-Metro area.

When it comes to brain injuries and neurological problems one thing is certain: every presentation that walks into our clinic is unique. Even when two people have the same diagnosis, rarely do they have identical findings. This helps us understand why a particular treatment option will work for one person but doesn’t work for someone else. Understanding this problem has become the foundation for what is now Colorado Integrative Neurology. Unique brain problems require unique interventions. That is why in our clinic our focus is Customized Neurological Rehabilitation.

We look forward to serving the community in the months and years to come. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us.

Copyright © 2017 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at www.coloradointegrativeneurology.com or email us at cin@coloradointegrativeneurology.com. A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.