Barre-Lieou Syndrome

Ross Hauser, MDRoss Hauser, MD

Early in his career as a Prolotherapy physician in the 1950’s, Gustav Hemwall, M.D. noted some interesting phenomena occurring after Prolotherapy injections.

His patients’ neck pain¬†and headache were relieved and to his surprise their dizziness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision. In addition, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) was also alleviated.

A few patients even experienced improvements in their vision. Other serendipitous findings included improvement in paresthesias (pin pricking sensations in the arms), generalized weakness, and ear, face, and tongue pain. The reason for this was puzzling, until Dr. Hemwall learned about Barre-Lieou Syndrome. In 1925, Jean Alexandre Barre, M.D., a French Neurologist, and in 1928, Yong-Choen Lieou, a Chinese physician, each independently described a syndrome with a variety of symptoms thought to be due to a dysfunction in the posterior cervical sympathetic nervous system (a group of nerves located near the vertebrae in the neck). The posterior cervical sympathetic syndrome became known as Barre-Lieou Syndrome.

Symptoms that characterize the Barre-Lieou Syndrome: Headache, facial pain, ear pain, vertigo, tinnitus, loss of voice, hoarseness, neck pain severe fatigue, muscle weakness, sinus congestion, sense of eyeball being pulled out, dizziness, fatigue, numbness. Other symptoms may include dysesthesias of the hands and forearms (pins-and-needles sensation), corneal sensitivity, dental pain, lacrimation (tearing of the eyes), blurred vision, facial numbness, shoulder pain, swelling on one side of the face, nausea, vomiting, and localized cyanosis of the face (bluish color).

A reasonable question to ask is how can one disorder cause all of these problems? The answer is that any type of vertebral instability or subluxation can effect the function of the nerve cell aggregations located in the front of the neck just in front of the vertebrae. The vertebral instability or malalignment occurs because the ligaments that support the neck become injured. This is what occurs in the commonly known whiplash injury. Not only do neck and headache pain occur with whiplash injury, but also the signs and symptoms of Barre-Lieou Syndrome.

Treatment of Barre-Lieou

Typically, headache sufferers take Cafergot, Ergotamine, and Sumatriptin, to relieve the migraine or cluster headache pain because these vasoconstrict the blood vessels. The medications are, at best, a temporary fix. Prolotherapy to the vertebrae in the neck is the treatment of choice to permanently eliminate Barre-Lieou Syndrome. This occurs because Prolotherapy causes the vertebrae in the neck to move posteriorly (back) and no longer pinch the nerves.

Ringing In Ear, Dizziness, Stuffy Nose

Why do people with Barre-Lieou often have ringing in the ears, dizziness, and stuffy noses? It is because of an accumulation of fluid in the inner ear. When fluid accumulates in the inner ear, as is often the case with an upper respiratory infection, the ear feels full and the body feels off balance. Ringing in the ear (tinnitus), spinning (vertigo), or dizziness can occur. When Prolotherapy is performed on the head and neck conditions such as dizziness, tinnitus, and vertigo (Meniere’s Disease) can all be eliminated if the symptoms are due to Barre Lieou Syndrome. Often, immediately after Prolotherapy injections to the posterior head and neck areas, patients with Barre-Lieou Syndrome, who have had sinus trouble for years, experience clear breathing which they have not had in years. People using decongestants for years for “chronic allergies” and “chronic sinus infections” are often immediately helped by Prolotherapy injections into the head and neck region. The other symptoms such as blurred vision, severe fatigue, dysesthesias (pins and needles down the arm), low blood pressure, and low heart rate are easily understood by a decrease in the output of the sympathetic nervous system of the head, neck, and face areas. Prolotherapy injections to the head and neck region cause the vertebrae to realign, which decreases the compression of the nerves. Upon realignment, the Barre-Lieou Syndrome and its symptomatology are abated.