Cervicocranial syndrome is also known as Barre-Lieous syndrome and refers to a complex combination of neurological symptoms. These symptoms usually include chronic headache, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), neck pain, facial pain, sinus pain, ear pain and pain at the carotid artery region. Other symptoms include dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing, allergies, dizziness and vertigo. Some patients also complain about a chronic, dull throbbing pain at the base of the skull, which worsens upon movement of the head or neck.
This group of symptoms is believed to be caused by a misalignment of the cranial bones and the cervical bones of the spine. The syndrome can present independent of age, disease or associated trauma in a person. It is believed that the syndrome could also arise due to damage to the posterior cervical sympathetic chain consequent to the degeneration of the cervical vertebra leading to a prolapsed disc in the mid-cervical spine region.
The abnormalities in the skeletal structure in this syndrome result in exertion of undue pressure on the surrounding nerves. This pressure could be due to a gradual build-up of pinched nerves or it could be of sudden onset due to some trauma or injury. It could also be due to congenital abnormalities, arthritis, whiplash injury, rheumatoid arthritis or detrimental postural changes.
An ideal test for diagnosing cervicocranial syndrome is by the use of thermography to detect inflammation for uncovering medical issues. This test employs the use of an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow. Hypothermic areas were found over the cervical region and along the upper extremities in patients clinically diagnosed with cervicocranial syndrome. Basically a thermographic device displays heat emissions from the body as colored images of varying intensities and Chiropractors believe they can use it to detect areas of nerve pinching or impingement. A more traditional MRI imaging can also be done to rule out other problems of the neck which could be causing this syndrome.
Treatment usually entails the use of sympathetic nerve blocks or physical therapy. Subtle manipulation of the head and the cervical spine can help in realigning the bones back into their correct position and reducing head and neck pain. Other recommended therapies include neck stretches, postural training and trigger point therapy. While pain medications can help provide relief to some patients, others might need surgery to correct the subluxation of the cervical spine and decompression of spinal nerves.
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