MAR 17, 2016 5:21 AM PDT

Can a Shampoo Give You a Stroke?

Beauty parlor stroke syndrome? That can’t be a real thing right? Actually it is. There aren’t exact numbers of how many people suffer strokes as a result of a visit to  salon, but the phenomenon seems well known among neurologists. The problem occurs when a person spends more than 10-15 minutes with their neck arched back as is common in shampoo sinks at beauty salons. Experts say that the extreme angle of the neck can shift the position of the bone such that a small tear in the arteries can result.

The body’s own clotting mechanism will usually kick in, however this kind of stroke is more common in people who might already be on blood thinners or have osteoarthritis, making them more susceptible to an injury. It doesn’t just happen in beauty salons, although that does seem to be the main cause of most of the neck injuries that preceded strokes. It can also happen during chiropractic treatment when a patient is bent back for manipulations. Another area is in the dentist chair. Some dental procedures can take an hour or more, leaving the patient in a vulnerable position for too long. Often if a patient has numbing anesthetic, the injury can go unnoticed.
 
A shampoo could cause a problem for some

A woman in California is suing a hair salon after she suffered a stroke that she attributes to being in a reclined position at the shampoo sink. Elizabeth Smith, who lives outside San Diego went to BlowBunny salon in December of 2013 for a shampoo and blowout.  She told ABC affiliate KGTV-10 that about 8 days later that experienced weakness in her left arm and leg. Eventually her condition worsened. She states, “I vomited, my head became hot and I couldn't stand. I had weakness in my arms and legs. They didn't think I was going to live.” According to Smith’s doctors, the stroke was a direct result of the vertebrae in her neck dissecting one of the cervical arteries, causing her massive stroke. Smith has been left with a large clot in her neck as a result, and her doctors have said that if it moves it could travel to the brain and kill her.
 
Peter Gloviczki, M.D., a vascular surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. told Self Magazine, “This is a potential problem that we’ve seen as the cause of strokes, usually in younger people. When you hyperextend your neck, there can be a little bit of compression on the artery from simply just changing the position or the bones slide a little bit one over the other. That can cause a tear in the blood vessel, resulting in a blood clot, which can travel to your brain and cause a stroke.”
 
Take a look at the video below to see how Smith is dealing with the aftermath of her stroke and learn what precautions to take if you will be visiting a salon or participating in any activity where your neck is at risk for hyperextension.
 
 
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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