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Neck Postures May Pose Risk of Brain Attack at the Hair Salon

Posted on: 02/21/2001
If you're feeling dizzy after having your hair shampooed and styled, there might be an explanation--other than your dazzling new looks. The problem could have to do with a shortage of blood to the brain from having your neck tilted back while getting a hair shampoo, a position commonly used in hairdressing salons.

The vertebral basilar arteries carry blood to the back part of the brain, the cerebellum. In some people, one or both of these arteries can start to get squeezed when the head is tilted back and turned to the side. This squeezing effect can cause a shortage of blood to the brain, leading to dizziness and possibly even a "brain attack," or stroke. Usually, the symptoms only last a short time. There haven't been a lot of reports of this problem, but it is common enough that scientists have given it a name--"beauty parlor stroke syndrome."

In this study, researchers reported the case of a 62-year-old woman who'd had problems with dizziness after shampoo treatments at a hair salon. Along with her feelings of dizziness, she noticed pain in the back of her head and had problems walking. Test results using MRI angiography showed a problem with the blood flow through the left vertebral artery. The doctors also saw markings on MRI scans that showed where a stroke had happened in the tissues of the cerebellum. 

People placed in the head-back position for hair treatments at the salon may end up getting more cut off than just their hair. The authors encourage public education in hopes that hairdressers will place their customers in safer neck postures when doing hair treatments and shampoos.

Kenji Endo, MD, et al. Cervical Vertigo After Hair Shampoo Treatment at a Hairdressing Salon: A Case Report. In Spine. March 1, 2000. Vol. 25. No. 5. Pp. 632-634.

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