Headaches are a complicated problem that can have multiple causes. The pain associated with headaches is an irritation of the pain-sensitive structures in the head, which ironically, does not include the brain. While a headache may feel like your brain is aching, the brain itself is not actually sensitive to pain. Heachache can be linked to both physical and chemical factors from muscle tension to food allergies. For those who suffer from chronic headaches the search for relief can be a frustrating one. Despite the complexity of this issue there are several common threads among those who suffer from headaches.
The head when properly aligned over the neck and shoulders weighs between ten and fifteen pounds. Often our daily activities cause the head to drift forward from the midline of the shoulder, the area designed to carry the weight of the head. As the head drifts forward the weight of the head increases exponentially. Think pushing a bowling ball away from your chest and how much heavier it feels the further from your center it gets. This strain on the neck causes the muscles in the back of the head and neck to become overworked and irritated, especially around the base of the skull. The repetitive stress on these muscles is a contributing factor. Addressing poor posture and treatment of soft tissues of the head and neck is a key piece to alleviating headaches.
Alignment of the bones in the neck can also become compromised due to poor posture. The strain on the spine from the head drifting forward causes a loss of the shock-absorbing curvature in the neck. Without adequate curvature, joints of the neck and upper back are under increased stress and become less mobile in an attempt to provide stability to the head. Lack of joint motion can lead to pinched nerves, and short, tense muscles in the neck. Irritated nerves and muscle tension due to joint dysfunction in the neck can lead to headaches.
Migraine headaches are the most complicated to treat and diagnose as they typically include some elements of all the headache triggers and produce a massive chemical change internally. Genetics, environmental factors, hormones, and brain chemistry all appear to play a role in this type of headache. No one therapy works for everyone, and it is important to work with someone familiar with treating migraines.
Here at Southern Oregon Sports and Spine, we focus on remobilizing joints, releasing muscle tension, correcting muscle imbalances through guided exercise, and posture correction using drills that are easy to implement. For migraine headaches specifically we discuss nutrition, nutrients that are key to nervous system health, and ways to lower the stress headaches cause to the body.