Severe Headaches

Posted On: June 21, 2017

This is the fifteenth case review from my past practice. I am Dr. David Johnson a chiropractor and physical therapist in Highland Park and Lake Bluff. I am the director of North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation. I started as a chiropractor in Lake Forest, Il in 1988. I integrated physical therapy into my practice in 1990.

This is a case where a patient came to me after spending a week in the hospital. She was in her early twenties and was quite active. She had developed severe headaches and was so nauseous she was vomiting.

She had an extensive work up at Highland Park Hospital and was told she had an intestinal infection and was severely dehydrated. They treated her with broad-spectrum antibiotics and IV fluids. After a week she was felt to be stable and was released.

She came in with her mother. Both had been patients over the years and I was a trusted doctor who had helped them in the past.

She was complaining of sudden onset severe headaches with intermittent nausea. She looked awful. She was pale and drawn. She didn’t smile. I knew her as a vibrant young woman who was full of life.

I started by going over what was done with the mother, who was a nurse. CT scan of her cranium was negative. All blood work and labs had normalized. Initially her electrolytes were off but those improved with hydration.

Her vital signs were normal except for a mildly elevated temp. Review of systems revealed she had had some night sweats and chills. Neurologically she was normal. He lungs were clear and she had a normal heart rate and rhythm. I had her lie down and I lifted her head slightly. She got a severe shot of pain causing her to recoil her head back to the table. I stepped back and told the two of them that was an unusual response. I said it is almost like she has meningitis.

The mother was aghast. She told me that her daughter had just had every test known to man. I asked if they did a spinal tap. The answer was no. The long and the short of it is that the daughter ended up at Northwestern Hospital where she was diagnosed with viral meningitis. She was treated for about two weeks and fully recovered. Thank goodness.

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