headache from neck pain

Headaches, ‘A Pain In The Neck’?

Have you ever heard of the term ‘cervicogenic headache‘? If you were to consult the International Society for Headache Research, you would discover a category of headache known as ‘cervicogenic headache’, which essentially means a headache caused by issues in the neck and its tissues. It’s more common than most people, including doctors (but probably not chiropractors), might expect.

Chiropractors have known for nearly 100 years that the neck is a major cause of headaches. And now medical science is catching up to them.

Mr Nikolai Bogduk, a medical researcher and leading expert in the microanatomy of the human nervous system, has discovered significant overlaps between the sensory nerve pathways of the neck and the head. This discovery makes it easy for a neck problem to be felt as a headache. In fact, many headache or migraine sufferers report that their headaches start in their neck or they feel neck pain during their headache/migraine episodes. These individuals also experience more frequent neck pain than the average person, indicating a strong connection between neck pain, neck problems, and headaches. Chiropractors can help address these issues and provide relief to those suffering from cervicogenic headaches.

If you were to ask a traditional medical practitioner about headaches like migraines, they would tell you that changes in blood flow to the brain are the primary cause. While this may be true for migraines and possibly tension headaches, it is important to note that changes in blood flow could be triggered by neck issues. Research has shown that there are connections between the sensory nerve pathways of the neck and head, which means that a problem in the neck can be felt in the head. This is where a chiropractor can come into play.

As a chiropractor, I work in the pain management trenches and have found that most headache/migraine sufferers have deep knots in the muscles at the top of their neck, as well as stiffness, locking, and inflammation of the small weight-bearing joints. Additionally, many have a limited range of motion in their spinal joints. By addressing these issues, we have reduced headaches for many patients. 

So if you have been wondering whether neck problems could cause your headaches, the answer is a definite and resounding YES – and there is help available through chiropractic care.

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