Recently, a woman from California sued a salon claiming she got a stroke after a routine visit.
A trip to the hair salon is usually uneventful. But for one woman, 48-year-old Elizabeth Smith, a hair wash turned out to be detrimental. The California-based woman says a week later, she experienced weakness in her left arm and leg and suffered a stroke the following week. The doctors said a CT scan revealed that an artery in Smith’s neck had been damaged by leaning back in the parlour’s shampoo sink. Apparently, when her neck was bent backwards, it hyperextended, her vertebrae slicing an artery and a blood clot began forming, later causing a stroke. This is also known as the “Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome” in medical terms and though cases are few, one needs to take precautions.
Avoid forceful movements
Dr Rajnish Kumar, senior consultant and head of the unit department of neurology, Paras Hospitals Gurugram, says he has seen a few of these type of cases.
“This kind of stroke occurs when there is a dissection of the artery which is supplying blood to the brain. The inner layer of the blood vessel is damaged and it obstructs the blood flow inside the blood vessels. So the blood does not reach the brain and it results in paralysis. Keeping this in mind, one should be careful to not move the neck forcefully, while trying to wash hair or give a massage. The sudden shakes or movement of the neck can work to damage the arteries and the vessels. It is also advisable to change the neck movements and positions after small intervals rather than giving a vigorous shake.”
Other activities can cause stroke
Dr Shirish Hastak, consultant neurologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai Central, says vertebral artery dissection is one of the causes of stroke in the young.
“A population-based study from Minnesota pegged the incidence at 0.97/100,000 population. However, the true incidence could still be higher as it is often under-reported. Extra- cranial vertebral artery dissections occur usually after a mild physical trauma or mechanical events. Dissection has been reported after skating, scuba diving, dancing, yoga, vigorous exercise, trampoline use, swimming, etc. Other rarer events include sneezing, coughing, sexual intercourse or even during child- birth. In our experience, we have seen patients with dissections after aggressive dandiya dancing or a night of high-velocity head bobbing dance. In this beauty parlour case, it is very possible that an aggressive manoeuvre could have caused the initial dissection, however, it could have been precipitated by some other physical activity such as running, jogging which might have led to the stroke two weeks later.”
Aside from washing one’s hair at a salon, violent jerky movements of the neck are common during chiropractic sessions or when Indian barbers give a massage at the end of a haircut says Dr Girish Nair, Chief Consultant Neurologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
“There are some people who have a possible predisposition to this, those with diseased arteries and building cholesterol levels their chances of stroke are higher. Smokers, those with high blood pressure and diabetes, have already weakened arteries. The best way to prevent this is to know your body if any movement causes discomfort or pain tell the therapist or beautician. Avoid extreme neck positions, never allow it to bend more than 180 degrees from the plane. Also, avoid hyperextension of the neck and stop treatments immediately if you’re not comfortable,” he advises.