The incidence of migraines and severe headaches is staggering with 1 out of every 6 American adults experiencing a severe headache within 3 months. And, that says nothing about the run of the mill “regular” headaches that many people suffer with weekly or even daily.
Dangers of Medication
What do most people do to relieve their headaches? They typically take analgesic or pain medications. But, all of these medications have significant risks. They can all cause side effects and complications if taken for a long time or in high doses. What kind of complications?
- Damage to internal organs like liver and kidneys
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Heart problems
- Allergic reactions
- Nausea, upset stomach, or heartburn
I’ll bet you aren’t aware that Tylenol is the leading cause of acute liver failure. Not only is it clear that all analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications come with risks, but more importantly they fail to address the cause of headaches. If they were correcting headaches you would take the medication for a period of time and the headaches would go away. But, that isn’t the case.
What Causes Headaches?
There are a number of different causes of headaches. Different types of headaches – tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, cervicogenic headaches – all have a variety of triggers that bring on the headaches. And….
…they all have a common issue of irritation of sensory nerve fibers that causes the pain, regardless of the initial trigger.
If we are going to be successful in improving or resolving headaches it is important to address any imbalances that cause the irritation to nerves that creates the pain of a headache.
Pain of any kind is due to irritation of tissue with sensory nerves. The sensory nerves get irritated and send the message of pain. So, instead of shutting down the message perhaps we should put our efforts into correcting the cause of the irritation.
5 Critical Legs to a Successful Headache Treatment Program
Whether you live in Grass Valley or Nevada City, CA or anywhere for that matter here are 5 critical legs to successfully treating chronic headaches. Each leg is addressing a different source of irritation causing headaches.
#1 Upper Cervical Spine: the very top of the neck where the top 2 spinal bones meet the skull is a critical region. It is home to the brain stem which is where the autonomic nervous system exits the brain and travels into the body.
Imbalance of the occiput, C1, and C2 can cause an overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight system), resulting in muscle spasm, decreased blood flow, and increased inflammation among other things. Restoring balance to this area is crucial.
#2 Cervical Curve: the neck should have a gentle curve going forward. This is essential to balancing the 11 lb. weight of the average head. When the curve is lost or reversed it puts tremendous added tension on the small muscles of the neck and pinches the nerves in the upper neck. Every inch that the head moves forward is like adding another 11 lbs.to the weight the neck must hold up.
#3 Cervical Spine Joint Motion: joints have one purpose, to provide for motion. When a spinal joint loses its ability to move properly it puts added stress on other joints. As a result muscles work harder and spasm and the joints get inflamed. Restoring proper joint motion is essential to get the neck muscles to relax and reduce inflammation.
#4 Proper Breathing Mechanics: most people in chronic pain have poor breathing mechanics. They tend to breathe with their mouth and use their upper chest, shoulders, and neck muscles to breathe. This increases tension in the muscles of the neck, restricts the joints, pinches the nerves, and activates the fight or flight system. The result is increased inflammation, muscle tension and headaches.
Learning how to breathe properly has a profound effect on the level of tension and pain we carry in our body.
#5 Vagus Nerve Activation: chronic headaches like all chronic pain is accompanied by an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic “fight or flight” system becomes overactive, suppressing the Vagus Nerve of the parasympathetic system. Even after we remove the source of irritation it is almost always necessary to activate the vagus nerve with simple practices.
If you have chronic headaches, it is a sign of imbalance most likely in the neck. Restoring balance and removing stress and irritation from the nerves, muscles, and joints allows everything to work as intended.
Bill Berkowitz, DC
Bringing more than 3 decades of practice experience, Dr. Bill Berkowitz focuses on balancing and corrective care, applying his expertise to provide patients with predictable, repeatable and measurable results.
Dr. Bill consistently strives to enhance the well-being of his patients by addressing the root imbalances of their problems and promoting optimal balance, alignment, and function of the spine and nervous system.
Bill’s wealth of knowledge and experience has allowed him to develop a nuanced understanding of the human body and its intricate connections. With each adjustment, he supports the body in returning to a state of balance that goes beyond mere symptom relief, focusing instead on long-term correction for his patients’ well-being.
Make sure to subscribe to Dr Berkowitz’s social media pages where he regularly posts tips, insights and valuable information.
Schedule your first visit here: Life Chiropractic