What does a mild concussion feel like? What is the difference between a mild concussion vs just hitting your head and having a headache?

Dr. Michael Lovich

Answered August 29, 2017

From the perspective of hitting your head, without neurological implications, you can cause a lesion to the scalp, or a sensitization of the pain pathways localized to where your head was hit.

Adding in neurology now…

Think of concussion and TBI on a continuum, like this!

Simple -> Complex
Sub-concussive trauma, concussion/mTBI, moderate TBI, severe TBI.

They are all shades of grey of the same injury, characterized as motion of the brain within the skull, leading to stretching, shearing, and tearing of neuronal axons. This is known as a “diffuse axonal injury.” In addition, the inflammation in response to the injury has neurological effects as well!

For example, if you had 100 neurons designated to perform a specific activity, then 30 are damaged, you have 70 neurons left! Now those 70 neurons have to compensate and pick up the slack for the 30 missing neurons through all that inflammation!

Poor compensation and adaptation, with ANY severity of injury, can lead to headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, anxiety, memory loss, neck pain, sleep issues, back and neck pain, weakness, sadness, difficulty walking, poor balance, depression, blurred vision, joint stiffness, and joint pain.

In fact, some hypothesize that repetitive sub-concussive trauma over a period of time with a chronic inflammatory response can be the main cause of CTE.

The good news is that, in most people, the body will clear out the inflammation in about 2–4 weeks, and most people will make a full recovery. However, in those that do not, being evaluated by a team of medical neurologists and functional neurologists will make sure you have had a comprehensive evaluation with a rehabilitation program involving the visual system, vestibular system, and proprioceptive system, to help guide the healing process.

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