The common headache is far too common for many people. Can we discuss what causes the common headache and how to help it. First, there are three main types of headaches: migraines, cluster headaches, and tension or cervicogenic headaches (the common headache). Migraines come from changes in the blood vessels within the brain and be very debilitating, as many of you know. Cluster headaches are not that common, but are the worst of the three. The common or tension headache is most common and is caused primarily by tight muscles in the neck and the muscles that attach to the base of the skull. As the muscles in the neck that attach to the base of skull become tight they become achy. Those muscles will become tight for many reasons: stress, sitting too long at our work desks and working on our computers, or driving to and from work for long periods during the day, or simply from bad posture such as having our head and shoulder forward too much. When muscles stay tight for too long, they build up with lactic acid and become very sore and achy, similar to when you lift weights at the gym and you “get that burn”, however in this case, “no pain no gain” does not fit our model. Those muscles will refer pain, and typically refer pain to the base of the skull, into the temples, and to the forehead and behind the eyes. When these muscles remain tight, the spinal joints under the muscles will become restricted in their movement, and that is why you start to feel very stiff. As the joints remain restricted, they become achy, and achy joints will cause the muscles around them in the neck to tighten up, and that is what started our problem in the first place, so now we are in a vicious circle of tight joints and achy muscles, with a headache resulting. The adjustment will release the restriction of those joints and will result in the relaxation of the muscles, and that is why the adjustment helps with the common headache soo much. Also, consider this, it is not uncommon for people to have two types of headaches at the same time. Sometimes, patients come in with the worst headache ever, and they have a migraine and tension headache at the same time, so the adjustment will relieve the tension portion, and therefore about 50% of the pain, and isn’t that worth coming in for the adjustment!!
Thanks for reading. Dr. Mckim