Common Post Concussion Symptoms & What to Do About Them

Concussions are commonly called an "invisible injury" because for most people, there are no obvious, external signs of injury. X-rays and MRIs are typical imaging studies done in the emergency room or a doctor's office and don't show any objective signs of a concussion. But for anyone that has experienced a concussion, the symptoms are very real, even if no one can "see" them.

Concussions are more common than you think. Click here for statistics on concussions.

Common concussion symptoms include:

  1. Feeling "off"

  2. Headache

  3. Dizziness

  4. Sensation of being off-balanced

  5. Pressure in head/neck

  6. Neck pain

  7. Difficulty sleeping

  8. Light and/or sound sensitivity

  9. Nausea

  10. Feeling tired even when you've slept all night

  11. Exercise intolerance

  12. Difficulty concentrating

  13. Visual disturbances: blurred vision, eye fatigue/strain

There is no typical course of onset or resolution of concussion symptoms. Some symptoms may resolve quickly while others may linger for weeks or months. If symptoms remain for several months or longer, a diagnosis of post concussion syndrome (PCS) may be appropriate. Predictors for developing PCS in high-school athletes include: a concussion history, premorbid mood disorders, other psychiatric illness, or significant life stressors. Other contributing factors that may increase the chances of developing PCS are a family history of mood disorders, other psychiatric illness, and migraine. PCS development does not appear by race, insurance status, body mass index, sport, helmet use, medication use, and type of symptom endorsement. Read more on this research here.

Strategies for Acute (<1 month) Management of Concussion Symptoms

  1. Avoid pushing through symptoms

  2. Nap/take breaks as needed

  3. Take time off work if needed

  4. Reduce screen time and/or use blue light blocking glasses

  5. As for help around the house

  6. Reduce sugar, alcohol, and processed foods

  7. Minimize stress

  8. Use ice or heat (whatever feels better)

  9. Address any whiplash symptoms: massage, physical therapy, dry needling, posture strengthening

Strategies for PCS Symptom Management

  1. Keep a journal of your symptoms to discover symptom triggers

  2. Recognize patterns of symptoms and adjust your schedule accordingly

  3. Find a treatment team to help reduce your symptoms during a flare up: acupuncture, massage therapy, talk therapy

  4. Find a treatment team to help with neuroplasticity and healing: physical therapy, neuro-optometrist

  5. Exercise to tolerance

  6. Develop a health eating plan to help reduce inflammation and promote healing

  7. Train your balance

For tools to help Concussion symptoms:

For more in-depth, personalized concussion symptom management advice, schedule an appointment (virtual appointments available Globally; clinic or mobile visits available in Central Denver):

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