When you hear the term headache, you don’t usually think about the neck. Rather, you focus on the head, more specifically, “…what part of the head hurts?” But, upon careful questioning and examination of our patients at Denver Chiropractic Center, we usually find some connection or correlation between neck pain and headaches.
The key to this connection can be found in looking at the anatomy of the neck. There are 7 vertebrae that make up the cervical spine and 8 sets of nerves that exit this part of the spine and innervate various parts of the head, neck, shoulders and arms, all the way to the fingers.
All of these nerves pass through muscles, and this is where the problem can start. Think of the nerves as electric wires that stretch between a switch and a light bulb. When you flip on the switch, the light illuminates. Each nerve, as it exits the spine, is like a switch and the target it travels to represents the light bulb. So, if one were to stimulate each of the nerves as they exit the spine, we could “map” exactly where each nerve travels (of course, this has been done).
When we look specifically at the upper 3 sets of nerves that exit the spine (C1, C2, and C3), we see that as soon as they exit the spine, they immediately travel through several muscles at the base of the skull. These muscles can become tight for several reasons, like poor posture (computer sitting), whiplash, and sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow.
Like any nerve, if enough pressure is applied to the nerve, some alteration in nerve function occurs and usually a sensory change is noted (numbness, tingling, pain, burning, etc.). If the pressure continues, these symptoms can last for a long time. These types of headaches are often called “cervicogenic headaches” (literally meaning headaches that are caused by the neck), and are the most common type of headache.
These can be caused by the nerves getting pinched or pressured by tight muscles through which they travel as they make their way to the scalp. At Denver Chiropractic Center, we use a combination of Active Release Technique and gentle (never forceful) chiropractic adjustments to release the tension in the muscles. This often releases the pressure on the nerves and can relieve headaches and neck pain.
Treatment programs for headaches and neck pain at our office general take 8-12 treatments over a period of 4-8 weeks. We look for some signs of improvement within the first 4 treatments. But before we can treat you, we need to make sure you’re an appropriate candidate for our care. While we can help with cervicogenic headaches, there are other types of headaches that require medical evaluation. It all starts with an initial consultation and exam.
We realize that you have a choice in where you go for your healthcare services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for neck pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing Denver Chiropractic Center and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.
Simply call us at 303.300.0424 to set up your initial appointment, or fill out our very brief web form to have us contact you: denverback.com/contact.html.