One of the most common ailments encountered by doctors is headache. More than 40 million people in this country suffer from headache, according to the Center for Disease Control, and the number is increasing steadily. And while some may be caused by whiplash injury or other trauma, most come on without any apparent cause. The majority of suffers are women between the ages of 18 and 45 years, but many men also are affected. Unfortunately, many headaches are misdiagnosed and people continue to suffer, often becoming reliant on various medications to deal with the pain.
Neck Headache – A Common, Painful Headache That Chiropractic Can Help!
A neck headache is simply that; a headache that is caused by the neck. They are correctly referred to as cervicogenic headaches (cervicogenic means ’caused by the neck’), and are very common among people with tension in their necks and shoulders. And with the amount of time spent on computers and smart phones these days, who doesn’t have that?
A neck headache can cause pain at the base of the head, over the temples and behind the eyes, and may be worse on one side. They can last from hours to weeks and often are accompanied by neck pain, and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Neck headache pain can be throbbing or pounding and may be severe to the point where people miss work or avoid activity. Nausea and sensitivity to light or sound may also be present.
And because of the similarity in symptoms, neck headache is often confused with migraine and treated with medication. People can suffer for years, never knowing that their neck and shoulders are causing their headaches. Or that chiropractic can help stop them, for good.
How Can My Neck Be Causing Headaches?
In order to understand how neck headaches develop, it’s important to understand how the spine and nerves in the neck work. The neck is made of seven bones, called vertebrae, starting at the base of the head and ending at the top of the shoulders. The spinal cord runs down the center of the spine, and nerves run through holes in the bones and out to the body. The nerves are like wires that carry information (including pain signals) back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body.
When the joints and muscles in the neck become stiff and overworked, they can irritate those nerves leading to pain. And because of the way your neck is ‘wired’ that pain is often felt in the head. In fact, it’s no coincidence that headaches go hand-in-hand with a stiff neck. Activities like using a computer, playing sports, texting, driving, watching television, and even stress can create the type of wear and tear that leads to this type of headache. The good news is, neck headaches respond very well to chiropractic treatment.
Neck Headache – What Do The Experts Say?
Research into neck headache (cervicogenic headache) has been gaining a lot of steam in recent years, which is good news for headache sufferers. Up until recently, the idea of headaches caused by the neck was a foreign concept, but now it’s thought to be one of the most common causes.
The real change in thinking occurred in 1995 when a group of medical doctors and researchers at Syracuse University established the neck as a primary cause of headaches. According to Peter Rothbart, M.D. and president of the World Cervicogenic Headache Society:
“We couldn’t believe it at first. We’ve been able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches — not all headaches, but a significant number of them. It’s true that chiropractors have been saying this for years.”
How Do I Know If My Neck Is The Problem?
The key to determining whether your neck is causing your headaches is a proper evaluation. That means assessing the muscles in your neck, upper back and shoulders for areas of tightness, muscle spasm or scar tissue from injury, and checking the spine for joint stiffness and alignment.
It’s very common to find areas in the neck and upper back where the joints are stiff or stuck in people with headaches. The muscles of the neck and shoulders are also often quite stiff and tight. Thankfully, once proper motion and health is restored to the joints and muscles of your neck and upper back, headache pain often improves dramatically. Not only that, but your neck and shoulders will feel better!
To put it in simple terms, if you have headaches that are accompanied by a stiff neck and shoulders, were involved in a car crash, if you work at a computer, or you’re under stress, chances are your headaches are neck headaches.
But Can Chiropractic Help MY Headaches?
Dr. McGahey has been helping people with headaches just like you for years. And while not all headaches are neck headaches, many are, and they respond very well to chiropractic treatment. And less headache pain means better sleep, increased energy, and a better sense of health and well being.
Perhaps most important, people become less reliant on medications and the side-effects that go along with them. A healthy diet, exercise, and good posture can go a long way in preventing their return.
So what are you waiting for?
Click or call to schedule an appointment with Dr. McGahey and start feeling better today.