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What is Brain Fog Syndrome?

Posted in TMJ Disorder on Oct 26, 2020

Brain fog syndrome may not be an actual diagnosis, but it is the perfect description of the problem that thousands of Australian’s experience every day.

Brain fog syndrome is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is where there is a metaphorical haze, heaviness, or fog that affects how well your brain works. 

 

  • Trouble remembering what was said to you, even 10 seconds ago
  • Difficulty understanding even simple directions or concepts
  • Frustration being unable to find basic words to explain things
  • “Heaviness” or pressure in the head, that can cause head, neck, and jaw pain
  • Exhaustion that does not go away no matter how much you sleep

 

Brain fog syndrome goes beyond a “senior’s moment” or simple forgetfulness also. It affects your ability to think clearly, which ultimately affects your emotions and your mood.

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Frustrated. Short-tempered. Depressed. Anxious. Weary. Teary.. 

The potential list is endless.

What makes brain fog syndrome particularly troublesome is that it is not something that you can mentally block out. In that, that is the whole nature of the problem.

Even things like headaches, migraines, neck pain, jaw pain, and low back pain you can “block out.” When it is the ability of your brain to function, that is a whole other matter.

To make matters more troublesome is that you can remember clearly feeling “normal” before brain fog syndrome was part of your daily life. You do not like how it feels at all, and you would be willing to do anything to just get back to enjoying your life.

The problem that you have discovered is that  there is no formal diagnosis for “brain fog syndrome.” Again, it is a completely made-up term … but one that we use to describe the nature of the problem that so many people experience.

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So what I hope to offer in this article is a potential explanation for the cause of brain fog syndrome, and then to offer a potential solution to help you get back to enjoying the quality of life that you desire most,

 

What could cause Brain Fog Syndrome?

There may be two potential causes of brain fog syndrome: concussion and whiplash injuries.

A concussion is any head injury that injures the brain. A concussion may not involve a loss of consciousness and may even appear days or weeks following an injury.

Whiplash is any neck or spinal injury that stretches the spinal cord. Whiplash injuries do not always involve blood or broken bones, and even “minor” injuries like fender benders, falls, or sudden jerking movements can cause whiplash injuries.

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Whether it is a concussion or a whiplash injury, irritation to the nerve system - the brain and spinal cord - can have far-reaching consequences on the functions of your body.

In addition to controlling every movement, sensation, and function of your body, your nerve system is also responsible for hormone regulation, emotions, and conscious thought.

Therefore, it negatively affects the function of your nerve system at a high level, it can produce any number of adverse symptoms including brain fog syndrome.

It is for this reason that the description of brain fog syndrome is so closely associated with post-concussion syndrome and whiplash injuries to the cervical spine.

But here’s the interesting part: it is impossible to tell the difference between a concussion and a whiplash injury based on symptoms alone!

The reason is that post-concussion syndrome and whiplash can produce the exact same symptomatology, including brain fog syndrome!

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So how do you know the difference?

Usually, a few simple tests can help: namely x-ray, CT, or MRI scans.

A head/brain CT or MRI scan can help show if there is bleeding or swelling on the brain that could account for post-concussion syndrome or brain fog syndrome.

A cervical spine x-ray, CT, or MRI can also show if there is straightening or kinking of the neck curve that suggests a whiplash injury.   

But here’s the challenge: for so many people who experience brain fog syndrome, their scans say that everything is normal!

The result is that they got the GP, allied health practitioners, neurologists, and post-concussion specialists and clinics, but no one can really tell them exactly why they experience the symptoms that they do.

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Fortunately, many people are able to experience improvements with brain fog through a series of rehab exercises designed to enhance the coordination between the brain, the eyes, and the neck.

Alas, these activities do not work for everyone.

The consequence is that many people still experience brain fog syndrome, but now don’t feel like they have any options left that could help them.

But here is where a unique approach to healthcare that focuses on the alignment of the upper neck may be able to help.

 

Brain Fog Syndrome, the Atlas, and the Axis

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The alignment and normal movement in the upper part of your neck may be key in understanding the cause of brain fog syndrome, and also what you can do to help improve the quality of your life.

Here’s how.

The top vertebra in your neck is called the C1 or “atlas” because it supports the weight of your skull. The second vertebra in your neck is called the C2 or “axis” because it allows you to pivot your head left and right.

These two vertebrae protect your brainstem and upper spinal cord, which is essentially the master control centre of your nerve system that coordinates every function and sensation in your body.

The atlas and axis also have a unique relationship with your nerve system in many ways.

Foremost, the C1 and C2 vertebrae are physically tethered onto your spinal cord in order to keep your spinal canal open when you move your head. If the C1 and C2 were not connected to your spinal cord, you could crush your spinal cord every time you moved your head.

These tethers are called “Myodural bridges” and only exist in the upper part of your neck.

Furthermore, these myodural bridges are believed to be involved with the normal circulation of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), which provides oxygen and energy for your nerve system.

If CSF stagnates or does not flow properly, it can be associated with many brain-body symptoms, which notably includes brain fog syndrome.

You see, the “pressure” or “heaviness” or “backed up” feeling that many people, who suffer from brain fog syndrome are believed to be a factor of fluid flow.

And although MRI scans may show that there are no physical obstructions with the flow of CSF from tumours or infections, it does not change the fact that something is really amiss.

It may also explain why so many people who experience brain fog syndrome say that they feel better when they lie down because of the changes that occur with the flow of CSF in a lying down versus upright position.

The C1 and C2 vertebrae may also have an indirect effect on blood flow to and drainage from the brain. The atlas and axis transmit a pair of arteries (vertebral arteries) that supply blood to the brainstem, balance, and vision centres of the brain. 

Alas, if something may negatively affect blood flow to or from the brain, the down, and upstream effects could be significant. 

The atlas and axis are constructed to be the most flexible vertebrae in the entire spine. However, it also means that they are most susceptible to injury.

As we have already described, head, neck, and whiplash injuries do not always cause bones to break or dislocate. All it may take is an injury that shifts the centre of gravity of these vertebrae even a couple of millimetres in order to cause problems.

The reason is that the nerve system is extraordinarily sensitive.

To illustrate, have you even gone to the beach and gotten a bit of sand caught in your eye? A spec of sand is only 2mm in diameter, and yet that 2mm can cause the most significant pain!

Similarly, even a 2mm misalignment involving either the atlas or axis may be sufficient to affect the normal flow of blood or CSF within the cranial vault, and in turn, may contribute towards brain fog syndrome. 

Fortunately, if your brain fog syndrome is related to a mechanical injury in your upper neck, there may be a non-surgical, drug-free approach to healthcare that may be able to help you.

It is called Blair upper cervical chiropractic care.

 

What is a Blair Chiropractor for Brain Fog Syndrome?

Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that focuses on the relationship between the vertebrae in your upper neck - the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) - and your nerve system.

Blair specifically refers to a particular technique named after its developer, Dr. William G Blair, who devised a unique method of analysis and care to help people experiencing a wide variety of health conditions.

The general premise of the Blair technique is that every human being is constructed differently on both the outside and the inside. 

When we ignore these architectural differences, we may miss important diagnoses.

However, we take these individual differences into account and take specialised types of 3D imaging based on a person’s own body structure, then we are able to discover all types of conditions of the spine that could be negatively affecting a persons’ nerve system, and consequently their overall health.

So the purpose of Blair upper cervical chiropractic care is to identify and make a series of very precise corrections to the alignment of the vertebrae in your upper neck without twisting, cracking or other forms of spinal manipulation so that you own body is able to do what it is designed to do: heal itself naturally.

In this way, Blair chiropractic care is not a treatment for brain fog syndrome or any other condition. It is an approach designed to work with the normal healing forces of nature with the expectation that a body free of mechanical interference to its normal function will be able to heal.

Specifically, if a correction of the atlas or axis facilitates normal blood or CSF flow within the cranial fault, we can be optimistic that a Blair upper cervical chiropractic may be able to help people who suffer brain fog syndrome.

The process involves three general steps.

 

  1. First is a physical and neurological assessment to identify if there is a problem with the alignment or movement in your upper neck that could be connected with your brain fog syndrome.
  2. Second is a specialised x-ray assessment, taken at customised angles just for you in order to identify the exact direction and degree of any misalignments in your upper neck that could be related to the problem.
  3. The third is an individualised program of care to help give your brain and body the best chance possible to heal themselves.

 

So if this sounds like it may be the right approach for you to help with your brain fog syndrome, we would like to invite you to take the next logical step.

 

Brain Fog Syndrome and Blair Atlas Chiropractor Brisbane

We hope that you have found this article to be both informative and valuable if you are looking for treatment options to help your brain fog syndrome.

Indeed, if it was an easy process, surely someone would have e been able to figure out the cause of your symptoms. Instead, here, we have to make up a diagnosis - “brain fog syndrome“ - so that we can help you to understand that brain fog is an effect of something else.

Brain fog is not the cause of the problem.

And if you’re looking for a solution that addresses the cause of your brain bog syndrome, then we need to think differently about the nature of the problem … and most importantly, we need to do something different also. 

So if you would like more information about how we may be able to help you, we would be privileged to hear from you.

Our practice, Atlas Health, is the premier upper cervical health centre in Australia. We believe in the innate potential for human beings to have an extraordinary life.

Our focus is helping people with chronic health conditions, who have not been able to find answers elsewhere so that they can have long term solutions to enjoy the quality of life that they desire most.

Our practice is located in North Lakes (north Brisbane) to provide care for the local communities of Narangba, Mango Hill, and Burpengary as well as for people across the greater Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and SE Queensland area. We also take care of many people who travel across and even interstate.

Our principal chiropractic doctor is is Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, who is an advanced certified Blair upper cervical chiropractor. Dr. Hannah serves on the Blair Chiropractic Society Board, is an instructor, international speaker, published author, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical specific care.

Dr. Hannah offers a complimentary 15-minute over the phone consultation where you can discuss your condition and ask any questions you may have so that you can decide if care may be right for you to help your brain fog syndrome.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation to speak with Dr. Hannah, you can contact our office at 07 3188 9329 or complete the Contact Us email at the top of this page. 

We appreciate your trust in taking care of your health, and we look forward to hearing from you to do the best that we can to help you.

Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”

Gratitude & Prosperity - Thank you.

 

References

Daligadu J, Haavik H., Yielder PC, et al. Alterations in cortical and cerebellar motor processing in subclinical neck pain patients following a spinal manipulation. Manipulative Physiol Therap. 36(8); 2013:527-537. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24035521

Gouttebarge V, Aoki H, Lambert M, et al. A history of concussions is associated with symptoms of common mental disorders in former male professional athletes across a range of sports. Phys Sportsmed. 2017 Sep 13:1-7. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2017.1376572. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28870119

Haavik-Taylor H and Murphy B. The effects of spinal manipulation on the central integration of dual somatosensory input observed after motor training: a crossover study. J Manipulative Physiol Therap. 33(4);2010:261-272. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20534312

Haavik H and Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyography Kinesiology, 22(5);2012:768-776. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17137836

Lelic D, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural Plast. 2016;2016:3704964. doi:10.1155/2016/3704964. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4800094/

Ogura T, Tashiro M, Masud M, et al. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 Nov-Dec;17(6):12-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314714

Rosa S, Baird JW. The craniocervical junction: observations regarding the relationship between misalignment, obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid flow, cerebellar tonsillar ectopia, and image-guided correction. Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015, pp 48-66 (DOI:10.1159/000365470).

Rosa S, Baird JW, Harshfield D, Chehrenama M. Craniocervical Junction Syndrome: Anatomy of the Craniocervical and Atlantoaxial Junctions and the Effect of Misalignment on Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow, Hydrocephalus Bora Gürer, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.72890. A

Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015. DOI:10.1159/000365463.

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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