An overlooked cause of headaches.
Headaches are a symptom that can occur from a variety of causes. Stress, food, alcohol are just some of the causes. Most of the treatments available only address the symptom and don’t actually treat the cause. For example if your headache is due to a gluten intolerance, aspirin may take away the symptom but it isn’t doing anything for the cause. I bring this up because understanding the cause of your headache is important if you want to stop just masking the symptoms and actually correct the problem.
One of the more common causes is a misalignment of spinal bones in the neck, also called subluxation. The medical term for a headache caused from the neck is a “cervicogenic headache”. When the spine loses it’s normal alignment it puts abnormal stress on the muscles, discs and nerves. Below is a picture of a normal neck X-ray. You’ll see that the bones form a curve. That’s how it needs to be for optimal function.
Below is an example of a misalignment or subluxation of the neck bones. The curve is lost. This is just one possible example. This can happen from trauma such as a car accident, sports or work injury. What seems to be more common lately is from what we would call a “micro trauma” such as sitting at a desk with bad posture for an extended period of time. Or from looking down at a device for extended periods. Overtime this can change the spinal alignment. It’s kind of like a clogging artery where you don’t feel it happening, you only feel a symptom when the clog is at the point that it starts to affect the function of the heart. This is similar where you can have a misalignment slowly developing and have no idea until one day you start to get a symptom, such as neck pain or a headache.
What can be done?
First thing that needs to be done is a complete history and exam to help determine if the headache is a cervicogenic headache. From there the normal alignment and function of the neck is assessed which includes not only the spine but also the muscles and ligaments as well. Then a specific treatment plan is developed to restore alignment and function to as close to normal as possible.
If you think your headaches might be coming from your neck click the get started button below and set up a complimentary consultation to find out if we might be able to help you.