How are Headaches Caused?
Headaches and migraines are ‘common’ for many people but this doesn’t mean it should be considered ‘normal.’ There’s always a cause, and where there’s a cause there’s a way to help.
The cause of a headache is a little different for everyone and is very individual. Technical classifications, symptoms and characteristics of the various types of headaches can get very detailed. Often people don’t fit into these neat, tidy headache classifications. When it comes down to it, ‘classifying’ your headache is far less important than figuring out the cause and solving it.
To simplify things, I’ve found, based on experience and research, headaches are usually caused by several things:
2. Irritation of normal nerve and blood flow to the head and neck (often caused by spinal dysfunction).
3. Muscle tension in the neck causing one or both of the above (often caused by posture, stress, and spinal dysfunction).
4. Chemical toxicity in the body
5. Hormonal influences
6. Any combination of the above
Headaches- What to do about it
1. Address the simple things first
It’s 4 o’clock and you have a splitting headache. Rather than reaching for the Tylenol- ask yourself: How much water have I had today? If the answer is little to none it could be that you simply have a dehydration headache. Drink up! This may solve the problem right away. Have you been at the desk with poor posture for hours on end? Chances are your neck and shoulders are tight and your body is craving some movement. Get up, shake it out, and stretch it out doing some spinal hygiene exercises.
2. Have an honest look at your lifestyle
Your nutrition, exercise, and stress levels are all factors that can influence and cause headaches in the ways mentioned above. Are there some obvious lifestyle-related improvements that you can make? The easiest way to do this is with a lifestyle assessment like the one we do at our clinic. When you turn your body into a healthier machine by adding good habits and taking away negative ones things improve.
3. Take a close look at your environment
Are you being exposed to chemicals, harsh household cleaners or potentially hazardous materials on a regular basis? How about exhaust or fumes? Are you getting plenty of fresh air and sunlight daily? Are the PEOPLE around you constantly toxic and rubbing off on you? When a plant is wilting we ask what’s wrong with its environment- soil, water, sunlight. People are no different, the things, places, people, and situations people are exposed to will all have an impact on health.
4. Get a thorough spinal examination using the best technology available
When headaches become chronic and you’ve considered all the possible causes above it’s time to look more deeply. Spinal dysfunction in the neck is among the most common causes of headaches and migraines. Physical, emotional, and chemical stresses all act on the neck and can pull vertebrae out of proper motion and alignment. A poorly moving spinal joint is called a ‘vertebral subluxation.’ A subluxation (locked spinal vertebrae) creates muscle tension, a lack of local blood flow, and altered nerve input into the brain. This can have global health effects, headaches being a common symptom.
Spinal Video Motion Xray
To know exactly how the spine is functioning, a chiropractic exam is necessary. Traditionally this is is done by hand to assess the motion and tension of each spinal joint and surrounding muscles. At our clinic however, we use a technology called spinal video motion xray to assess the spine as well. Unlike a static xray, this allows us to actually see the spine in motion and pinpoint where issues are. Chiropractic treatment to restore proper motion is focused on these areas specifically. We are also able to take note of any more serious underlying issues that may be present. Hyper-mobility, past fractures, and degenerated joints are some examples. We ‘adjust’ these segments of the spine and release proper motion, muscle tension, nerve activity and blood flow. We do this a unique treatment table and instrument adjuster. Twisting, ‘popping’ or torquing is not required with this technique. The result has been headache relief and better quality of life for countless patients at our clinic. (Below is a side-view of a patient’s neck as they bend forward and back. The individual motion of each spinal vertebrae can be observed.)
The human body is a very complex and intelligent mechanism. So much so, that when our bodies are inflicted by a physical issue, they respond by creating pain signals. These signals are designed to catch our attention and focus on them. If this important aspect of the nervous system didn’t occur, we would never be aware of our physical problems!
This is what happens when you experience something as ‘commonplace’ as a headache. A deeper issue causes the nervous system to create a noticeable (and likely painful) alarm bel. In other words, a smoke detector, an ‘S.O.S’ signal, a not so gentle nudge. This is intended to let you know that a physical issue is compromising your body’s normal function.
When your body sends you a signal in the form of a headache, chances are an underlying cervical spine issue is the source. Chiropractic care can help let your nervous system know that you got the message.