Chances are if you’re like 95% of the population, you would have suffered a headache at some stage in your life. For those who only get headaches rarely, when they are sick, or self indulge, it is a problem that presents little interruption to your life and will cease once the aggravating factor is no longer present.
For others though, headaches and the more severe migraine, can be a regular, persistent and life affecting event. Migraines can cause people to loose days off work and even have trips to the hospital in extreme cases. Regular weekly and daily tension type headaches, can affect mode, performance at work, school, home and relationships.
So how does a back and neck problem give us a headache?
The spinal column consists of a series of bones (vertebrae) that are stacked on top of the other. These vertebrae are separated by gel-like intervertebral discs, which absorb shock and provide a pivot point. Tendons and muscles connect the vertebrae with the muscles of the back neck and head. Through the centre of the spinal column runs the spinal cord, a primary component of the nervous system that connects the brain with the entire body. Nerves extend out from the spinal cord between the vertebrae transmitting information to and from the body and brain.
Through trauma and day to day activities these vertebrae can become twisted or subluxated. Subluxations cause headaches in two ways. Studies show that subluxations alter muscular function, in turn spurring muscular tension and pain. Because muscles and tendons connect vertebrae in the neck with the head it’s easy to visualize how a misaligned vertebrae in the neck or upper back can set off a chain reaction that disrupts muscular activity in the head, causing pain.
These connections explain why headache pain is often accompanied by muscular soreness in the neck. Also inflamed joints in the upper neck often refer pain into the head. Subluxations, also put pressure on the nervoussystem. This can be shown to irritate, the spinal nerve resulting in referred pain into the head, the spinal cord, resulting in irritation to the supporting structure in the brain and interfering with the nerve supply to the blood vessels that supply the brain, resulting in a migraine type headache.
The medical approach to headaches and migraines is of course drug therapy. Pain killers to mask the pain, anti-inflammatories to reduce joint inflammation and thus referred pain and medications to alter blood supply to the brain. While offering temporary relieve it will never fix the problem, allowing the real cause of your headaches to worsen and your body becoming more tolerant to the medications, requiring a greater dose, not to mention the toxic effect any medication has on your body.
Chiropractic and Headaches It makes sense that if the majority of headaches originate from spinal problems that correcting the spinal problem would be the obvious solution. Chiropractors recognize that a well functions spine and nervous system is paramount for our body to function correctly. Just like a good diet, regular exercise, appropriate sleep and positive mental attitude are an essential part of being healthy, so is a nervous system free of interference.
Headaches, like any other symptom in our body, are a sign that something isn’t working properly. The headache is the symptom, not the problem. By addressing the cause of most headaches, spinal subluxations, chiropractic care has been scientifically shown to be extremely successful in helping with headaches and migraines.
But is chiropractic a cure for headaches????………NO. Chiropractors asses the functions of your whole spine, determine if yours is a chiropractic case and recommend a course of care to improve overall spinal structure and function and thus nervous system function. As the spine starts to improve, muscle tension, joint inflammation and nerve irritation is reduced and eliminated, stopping the reason for the headaches occurring in the first place.
You and your family and friends don’t have to live with debilitating headaches. More importantly, headache is a sign that the body is not well. This underlying problem could be causing a vast array of other health problems, some of which might not present themselves when until it’s too late