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The Dull Thud of Headache Pain

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headacheIts 2:30 pm and you’ve been spending hours working diligently on your computer. You’re feeling great about what you’ve accomplished when suddenly you start to feel that dull thud into the back and sides of your head. Headache pain! UGH! Horrible timing for a headache! (But then again, is there ever good timing for a headache?!)

With just a few questions to rule out anything more serious, those 2 sentences will put almost any practitioner onto the right path for diagnosis and treatment of your cervicogenic headache and once you can recognize the signs of headache pain, you can likely stop the headache in its tracks right now as well!

Did you know that women are 4 times more likely than men to suffer from cervicogenic headache pain than men and that the average age is 43 years old?  (Cited Here) As we increase computer use, time spent driving, and the steady increase in electronics, as well as holding our stress in ‘our neck’ its easy to see that the the mechanics of our necks have been changing.

What is a “Cervicogenic Headache”? Essentially, Cervicogenic means that the pain in your head is originating in your neck, or your ‘cervical spine’. Often times, you will instinctively start rubbing your neck once the head pain starts. That is a great indicator of what is causing your symptoms.  As our knowledge of neurology changes, we are now able to more accurately describe how the nervous system in your neck causes the pain in your head. Understanding how your brain confuses neck signals is a complicated discussion, and one that you probably don’t want to try to think about as you currently have a headache. To simplify – The brain is attached to the spinal cord, which supplies signals to the rest of your body. Some of these nerves exit through the upper neck and innervate the muscles and joints of your neck. In reverse, the muscles of your neck tell your nerves how they are feeling, which then gets intermingled with a few areas in the brain. When your neck gets compressed and stressed from poor position and stress, the muscles and joint tell your brain that something is not happy. Because of the way these nerves are set up, sometimes your brain gets confused, and you feel the pain in your head. (Like I said, simplified discussion!)

So what do you do?

  1. Drink a full 8 ounce glass of water, refill the cup, and plan to drink another one over the the next hour or so. Hydration will make sure the joints and muscles in your neck can heal and move freely.
  2. Get up, walk away from the computer, and focus your eyes on things over 20 feet away.
  3. MOVE your neck. Stretch it, roll it and do some distraction.
  4. Get your neck checked by a chiropractor. We specialize in normalizing movement into the joints. If you’re noticing an increased frequency of headaches, lets make sure its not something more serious and then get that neck moving better!

As always, Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed learning and don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions or schedule an appointment here!