Headaches can occur for a variety of reasons. There are also different types of headaches. Tension headaches are the most common type which occurs by muscles contracting causing mild to moderate pain that feels like a band around your head. Migraine headaches are a severe form of headaches that can be caused by pressure on the nerves in your neck. Chiropractic has great results treating migraines. There are many triggers as well, such as various foods, chemicals such as MSG and others. The pain of a migraine is usually on one side of your head, is throbbing and occurs in a moderate to high level and can last for hours. Migraines come regularly, as often as once per day but usually, at least once a month.
Headaches that are caused by problems in the neck are also a type of headache that originates from various dysfunctions of the joints or discs in the cervical spine. These types of headaches are termed Cervicogenic headaches. This basically means your headache is caused by a neck joint problem. The great news about this type of headaches is that if you fix your neck, you can alleviate neck headaches. Dysfunction in C2/C3 discs, spinal cord coverings, and neck muscles can cause pain that is interpreted as a headache in the brain. Neck joints can cause pain if they are too stiff, misaligned or locked in an abnormal position, or if they are too wobbly without support. In these cases, your neck muscles actually work overtime to protect the injured joints. Some other causes of neck pain and headaches are excessive gum chewing, which can lead to TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) pain which is also linked to neck and headache pain.
Diagnosing a neck headache can be difficult. Many times it is misdiagnosed as a migraine headache. A headache physiotherapist will look at all the symptoms plus a physical exam to determine if you are suffering from neck headaches. There are also common characteristics of neck headaches that make it more probable when diagnosing. The pain is usually worse on one side of the head, the pain can be provoked or lessened by neck movement and posture or massaging at the base of the neck, and the headache radiates from the back to the front of the head.
Treatment is usually performed by a chiropractor. They can help minimize the neck pain and joint dysfunction that is triggering the radiating headaches. Joint manipulation can help to release stiff or ‘fixated’ joints in the neck. If the problem is loose joints, they can be strengthened with a specific neck exercise regimen. Tight muscles in the neck can be released with massage, electric muscle stimulation, moist heat and a natural muscle relaxant, such as Relax Already. If the issue has to do with posture, there are posture correcting practices and a posture pump (I have them in my office) that can be used to get the neck back in working order.
Neck pain can be extremely debilitating and can cause numerous problems all on its own, but adding in headaches is another layer of pain that can be detrimental to the patient. Don’t assume that it is just a headache and that it will subside. If you are experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above, go to a chiropractor and let them diagnose your condition. Living with pain may be correctable and fixing your neck is probably pretty important as well. Take the time to invest in your health. Don’t let the pain go to your head.
I specialize in treating headaches and can help you determine the cause of your headaches.