Conditions We Treat - Head and Balance System​

Cervicogenic Headaches

What are Cervicogenic headachs?

Cervicogenic Headaches are a type of secondary headache that develop from tension within the neck’s anatomy. They are typically brought on by weak neck muscles, arthritis, stiff neck joints, or poor posture. These headaches are often a result of head, neck, and upper back injuries. Cervicogenic headaches range in severity and usually worsen throughout the day, especially when under stress. In contrast to migraines, these types of headaches start in the neck and don’t switch sides. Cervicogenic Headaches typically begin at the base of the skull and head and spread to the front and sides of the head. Patients frequently describe feeling some level of eye tiredness or strain as well as pain from the headache. Computer use, stress, or stationary positions often make the headache worse. These headaches can be treated in our clinic by using techniques such as heat/cold application, deep tissue work, massage, adjustments, naturopathy and more!

How are Cervicogenic Headaches treated?

People who suffer from cervicogenic headaches can benefit from a variety of treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic services, osteopathy, naturopathy and massage therapy. Practitioners at clinetic will assess the patient’s pain level, neck mobility, and muscle involvement to help develop a treatment plan that is most effective for the patient. Depending on the patient’s tolerance, the practitioner may use manual therapies to increase the mobility of the cervical spine and enhance blood flow to soft tissue and spinal joints. These techniques help to decrease the frequency and intensity of pain and improve range of motion in the neck. In addition to hands-on treatment, practitioners will also make exercise and stretching  recommendations to ensure optimal comfort when the patient goes home. 

Concussions/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

What is a Concussion or a Mild Traumatic Brain injury (TBI)?

A Concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The sudden forward, backward, or sideways movement of the head, similar to what happens during whiplash, is the most frequent cause of concussion. Concussions can range in severity and recovery timeline depending on the mechanism of injury and the treatment plan.

How does Concussion feel?

When the head is violently moved either by an object striking it or by abrupt changes in motion such as whiplash, mild TBIs or concussion may result. Depending on the severity of the injury, the chemical composition of the brain may change and affect how well it functions. Concussions may produce immediate and/or delayed effects. Short-term and/or long term physical, emotional, and mental symptoms and dysfunctions may result from concussion. Brain function issues, eyesight issues, and balance issues could be short or long term. All concussions are regarded as significant injuries by medical professionals. Concussions can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons. Causes may include:

  • Car accidents 
  • Accidents at work that occur from falling from heights or head trauma
  • Playground accidents, such as falling from a slide or swing
  • Sports injuries to the head or neck
  • A fall from heights, stairs, or losing balance, causing trauma to the head, face, or neck
  • Violent events where the head is shaken, or when the person is near a blast or explosion 
  • Direct blows to the head

How does Concussion feel?

While most concussions are not life-threatening, their symptoms may alter quality of life and interfere with activities of daily living. These symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances/ Oversleeping
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Difficulties with concentration & memory
  • Difficulty problem solving
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sensitivity to light and noise 
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability and emotional changes

How are Concussions managed?

To properly manage concussion or mTBI symptoms, early intervention is essential. Examples include:

  • Educating the patient and/or the patients’ parents/caregivers about the signs of illness and length of the recovery to avoid reinjury
  • Controlling dizziness and improving balance 
  • Rest and recovery 
  • Return to activity and sport at a gradual pace  
  • Rehabilitation of the head and neck through gentle mobilisation
  • Cognitive therapy

Vestibular Balance Disorders

What are vestibular balance disorders?

Vestibular Balance Disorders arise from disorientation in the inner ear leading to imbalance with the vestibular system. In the ear, there is a network of fluid filled canals called semicircular canals. During movement, the position of the fluid changes in the semicircular canals and sends information to the brain via ear sensors to provide us with a sense of balance. Certain factors can impact the signals from any vestibular system component, leading to symptoms of a vestibular balance disorder. This causes a decreased sense of balance, dizziness, and general disorientation. 

How do vestibular balance disorders feel?

Vestibular Balance Disorders arise from disorientation in the inner ear leading to imbalance with the vestibular system. In the ear, there is a network of fluid filled canals called semicircular canals. During movement, the position of the fluid changes in the semicircular canals and sends information to the brain via ear sensors to provide us with a sense of balance. Certain factors can impact the signals from any vestibular system component, leading to symptoms of a vestibular balance disorder. This causes a decreased sense of balance, dizziness, and general disorientation. 

How are vestibular balance disorders treated?

Depending on the underlying cause of the balance condition, treatment options include:

  • Naturopathic approaches to treat any root causes that may exist. 
  • Alterations in lifestyle. This can look like changes in nutrition and exercise, including smoking cessation or staying away from nicotine.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation or balance retraining therapy, provided by a rehabilitation specialist to help go through the day safely and manage dizziness

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

BPPV is a disease that affects the inner ear’s vestibular system causing vertigo along with other adverse symptoms. Vertigo is the sensation of the surrounding environment being whirled during normal movements. The vestibular organs, which include the utricle, saccule, and 3 semicircular canals, are located in the innermost part of the ear. Crystals of calcium are present in the utricle,  aiding the ability to sense motion. These crystals can occasionally fall into one of the fluid-filled semicircular canals. If the crystals are moving, the canals can send incorrect balance signals to the brain causing many disorienting symptoms.

What does BPPV feel like?

The symptoms of BPPV may include:

  • A feeling of spinning (vertigo) 
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble with balance
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Eyes drifting & flicking uncontrollably (Nystagmus) 

How is BPPV treated?

The treatment usually depends on your symptoms, age, general health, and severity of the condition. Some common treatment options include:

  • Clearance of calcium crystals out of the semicircular canals with a series of head and neck movements. 
  • Physiotherapy 
  • In rare cases, surgery may be advised

Balance and falls Prevention

Why is falls prevention important?

Almost 25% of people older than 65 experience a fall annually, and most of the time, these falls are not discussed with a healthcare provider. Once you have a fall over the age of 65, your chances of falling again doubles. The fear of falling often prevents older adults from partaking in physical activity, weakening their muscles and joints from lack of activity. The weakening of muscles and support for joints leads to altered balance and an increased risk of another fall. At Clinetic, we can help by encouraging movement to strengthen muscles and help decrease the fear around physical activity in old age. As a result, the risk of falls can be decreased significantly.

Most common causes and risk factors for falls

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors and fear of injury. Once the cause of the fall is identified, a treatment plan will be designed to address the cause and prevent falls and fractures. Causes of falls include:

 

  • Lower extremity muscle weakness
  • Health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis
  • Postural muscle weakness
  • Wrong type or poor fitting of walking aids (cane or walker)
  • Previously fallen
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain
  • Neuropathies
  • A hazardous environment such as loose rugs and poor lighting
  • Dizziness due to medication such as tranquillisers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Dizziness related to inner ear disorders such as Vertigo, inner ear weakness, and BPPV

 

Risk factors for falls include

 

  • Having experienced a fall
  • Taking many different medications
  • Having chronic diseases
  • Having arthritis, especially in the legs
  • Problems with vision
  • Poor or impaired balance
  • Weak muscles
  • Changes in blood pressure or heart rate

How can balance and fall prevention be managed?

With the aid of one of our practitioners, older adults can overcome their fears of falling by taking fall prevention measures and gaining confidence in the strength and stability of their body. Our therapists help to educate people about fall prevention measures, improve their strength with exercises, and decrease risk factors for falls. At Clinetic, we find the root cause of falls and inactivity and treat the problem directly to encourage a safe and healthy lifestyle. Some treatment examples include: