Unexpected cause of man's headache after seeing chiropractor

A man’s headache after a visit to the chiropractor has led doctors to an unexpected discovery.

The 34-year-old, from the US state of Colorado, was hospitalised with a headache and nausea that was somewhat relieved as he lay down, according to the case in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers wrote the man had visited a chiropractor for a cervical spinal manipulation.

A CT scan was performed to find what was causing the headache.

An MRI of a 34-year-old man's brain is pictured.
An MRI of the man's brain (right) and part of his spine (left). Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine

But nothing was found so an MRI of the brain and cervical spine was also ordered.

The MRI identified a cerebrospinal fluid leak which was affecting the spine at the neck.

He was given an epidural blood patch — a type of treatment specifically used during lumbar punctures and spinal injuries — for his headache.

“Chiropractic manipulation has been associated with vascular dissection, stroke, epidural hematoma, central cord syndrome, atlantoaxial dislocation, and pathologic fractures,” researchers wrote.

“A handful of case reports have described intracranial hypotension following manipulation.”

Intracranial hypotension is when there is negative pressure in the brain, according to UCLA Health.

“This condition is frequently a result of traumatic dural tears and may present as an orthostatic headache associated with nausea and neck stiffness,” researchers said.

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