Headaches are one of the most common ailments in modern society, more than 42 million Americans suffer from headaches each year! Often, these are minor stress or tension related headaches, and in some people are more severe migraine headaches. Unfortunately, one type of headache that is often misdiagnosed is the cervicogenic headache.

This type of headache originates from disorders of the neck including: trauma, disc degeneration, or the most common causes which are: poor posture, and poor ergonomics of their workspace. Therefore it makes sense why often it is just catagorized under a tension headache, or someone may think they are just dehydrated, when in fact it is a more serious sign that something may be wrong that should not be ignored.

 So Why Is Pain so Important To Us?

As human beings we are not meant to live in pain. Pain is of great neurological importance to us, it is the sign that something is wrong.

Example: When you touch something hot what happens?

You feel the pain → A nerve impulse travels to the spine and a synapse occurs → We pull away from the painful stimulus → Our body heals, and we learn.

In this senerio you could see the dangers if we become numb to pain! We would not pull our hand away from the stimulus as quickly (creating worse injury), and also we would not heal as quickly.

In this case we were just talking about an injury, but how does this relate to headaches? The answer is simple, pain works the same way everywhere in our body PAIN MEANS SOMETHING IS WRONG. If we become used to dealing with this pain, as is the case with chronic pain our body will not function properly or efficiently and many processes (processes that should be healthy) will keep getting worse at a faster rate.

Is Your Headache Cervicogenic?

Ask Yourself Two Questions:

 Question #1

Can the headache can be made worse or actually onset by head or neck movement ?

 Question #2

Is there is marked tenderness or tightness in the suboccipital region of the neck (the back of the neck region right below the base of the skull) ?

 If you can say yes to either of the following questions then the type of headache you are describing is of the cervicogenetic type.

 “Headaches Related To Neck Pain Are Telling You That There Is Something Wrong With The Structures of Your Neck!”

So What…Poor Posture Causes Headaches..?

Poor posture leads to deviations from ideal, efficient alignment of the spine, and will eventually result in production of  chronic pain symptoms, which have been shown through research to be predictable. Sustained misalignments result in some muscles becoming shortened and others developing constant overstretch (this patterning of shortend and lengthend muscles is often referred to as Upper Crossed Syndrome). The eventual concern is malposition of the involved joints. This creates common postural patterning of rolled forward shoulders, increases kyphosis (hunched back), forward head posture and loss of healthy neck curvature (Does you head feel heavy ever?).

The pathophysiology of the cervicogenic headache has also been associated with degenerative changes in the upper part of the neck (mostly the 3 top cervical vertebrae). The most common origin of pain is typically in these upper joints in the neck. Degenerative processes cause lack of movement and dysfunction, which cause irritation to the local pain-sensitive structures. The body responds to pain overtime by going from a sharp pain to eventually a chronic dull pain. So if you are already feeling achy/dull pain  in the neck region this means that not only do you have dysfunction of these joints, but that this destructive process has been occurring for a while now. The longer this process of degeneration keeps up the more it picks up speed. A very important part of your brain, your brainstem, is housed in this upper part of your neck which will be slowly damaged as the neck degenerates (the brainstem is in charge of all the functions your body needs to stay alive, like breathing, digesting food, and circulating blood). You ever notice an elderly person’s posture of their neck? Is it really just a coincidence that as this neck posture gets worse as we age we start to have breathing, digesting, and heart problems?

So How Do You Stop This Pain?

Past research has shown that surgery in the form of a nerve block or spinal fusion at certain levels has been successful in eliminating symptoms of the cervicogenic headache, however as posture gets worse these surgeries must be repeated again and again. However, chiropractic adjustments have been the proven to actually decrease the pain just as well as the surgical route, as well as restore proper joint function and movement and through the neurological rehabilitation of the spine and musculature chiropractic actually fixes the problem by correcting the postures that create the headaches. Therefore no dangerous surgery is involved, no pain killers that slowly destroy your organs are involved, and the body learns the postures that will actually help the patient maintain a longer healthier life in a natural way. Pain hinders us from being the best versions of ourselves. What have you done for your health and quality of life today?

“Don’t You Owe It To Yourself To Get Your Neck Checked Out”

For the health of your spine visit your local chiropractor.

-Dr Sid
Esprit Wellness
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