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  • Writer's pictureDr. Keith McGahey

Can A Chiropractor Help With Headache Pain?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

If you're suffering from headache pain, there's a good chance that your neck is part of the problem. Headache pain coming from the neck, sometimes called neck headache, or cervicogenic headache, is actually quite common. If you feel like your headache pain is coming from your neck, consider visiting top rated Bellevue Chiropractor Dr. Keith McGahey. He's been helping people with headache pain just like you for over 25 years. Find out why so many people rely on Chiropractic for effective treatment of headache pain. Schedule your appointment today! Now, on to the article...

People are often surprised when I tell them that their headaches may be coming from their necks. This type of headache is very common, and can feel very similar to migraine. The fance name is cervicogenic headache, which simply means a headache that originates in the neck. They're also referred to as a neck headache.

In this case, chiropractic treatment can be an effective alternative to mind-numbing medication. But how do you know if your headaches are coming from your neck? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

What Does A Neck Headache Feel Like?

The symptoms of (cervicogenic) neck headache are very similar to migraine: headaches are typically felt on one side of the head (sometimes both), and the pain can travel from the base of the skull to the temple and behind the eye on the same side. These headaches may be accompanied by neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, visual disturbances, pounding and nausea, just like migraine.

Neck Headache vs. Migraine

What's the difference? Let's have a look at both:

Migraine Headache

Migraines typically come on early in life, often during preteen years, are more common in women than men, run in the family (thanks, mom), and often get better as you get older. Headache pain is usually present on one side of the head and can be preceded by a prodrome – a prodrome is a warning sign that a headache is coming such as dizziness or sensitivity to sound or light. Migraine headaches can come a few times a month and last from hours to several days, and may be brought on by any number of triggers such as hormone changes, stress, food additives and alcohol.

Neck Headache

Unlike migraines, these headaches often begin later in life and can become more frequent (and more intense) as you get older. In my clinical experience, people who suffer these headaches may have a number of ‘migraine-like’ headaches per week, but can also have low-grade headaches on other days. In fact, people can become so used to having these low-grade headaches that they eventually learn to ignore them as a survival mechanism. Unfortunately, the bad headache days are much harder to ignore.

How Do I Know If My Headaches Are Coming From My Neck?

Do you ever find yourself pushing on painful knots in your neck or shoulders when you have a headache? Does your neck stiffen up before or during a headache? Do you sit at a computer all day or have poor posture? Have your headaches become more frequent as you’ve gotten older? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are your neck is contributing to your headaches, and probably more than you realize.

Headaches caused by the neck can develop after an accident or injury, especially a whiplash injury, or as a result of repetitive stress from working at a computer, performing physical labor, or even poor posture. They are often accompanied by painful muscle knots, neck joint stiffness, and a loss of flexibility when moving your head in different directions. A thorough chiropractic examination can help pinpoint the specific problem areas, and when treatment is directed at improving joint and muscle function in those areas, headache pain often improves.

Neck Headache Treatment That Works

Poor function in the joints and muscles of your neck can be a powerful trigger for headache. If you can improve the health of those joints and muscles, you can greatly influence how often that trigger sets off a headache. Plus your neck and shoulders will feel better. And who can’t use that?

If headaches are sucking the fun out of your life, maybe it’s time to try something different. Schedule an appointment and let's get to the bottom of your headache pain. It sure beats medication and hiding out in a dark room.

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