Headaches are one of the most common conditions described by patients who see chiropractors. These are often classified into different categories, but the most common types that we see are Tension type headaches and migraine headaches under the primary classification, and cervicogenic headaches (ie caused by the neck) under the secondary classification.
All sensation from the head and face runs through branches of a nerve called the TRIGEMINAL nerve, and this nerve brings sensory signals to a “relay station” called the trigeminal nucleus in the brainstem before passing on to higher centres in the brain. Sensory nerves from the neck also land on this same relay station, and through various neurological mechanisms, have been observed to modify the pain signals before they reach the brain. This is one of the most current theories of neuroscience used to explain how specific chiropractic adjustments directed to the neck have helped patients who present with headaches.
Faulty posture can also contribute to headaches as forward head movement increases the tension on the neck muscles which attach into the base of the skull. These same muscles can also be affected by stress. It is important to discuss all aspects of your headache with your chiropractor (ie how often they occur, how severe they are) so that we can accurately assess the cause and come up with an appropriate and effective solution.
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