Headaches can seriously interfere with your ability to function at work or in completing daily tasks, but sometimes, finding out what’s causing your headache becomes a task all its own. Migraines, lack of caffeine, stress – sometimes, it may seem like you can get headaches just from waking up in the morning!
So you take medication, drink coffee, and try to get more sleep. But if it seems like you’ve tried to treat every possible cause of your headaches and they still won’t go away, you may be forgetting to look at one key player in head and neck pain: your spine.
Most of the time, we tend to associate our spines with back pain. But they can cause spinal headaches as well. Here’s how:
Spinal tap or epidural block. These procedures put a hole in the passage where spinal fluid is constantly moving, causing spinal fluid to leak. Enough leakage can cause a spinal headache. These headaches are rare, but they can last up to five days after procedures are performed and have a wide variety of pain levels.
Moreover, spinal fluids (often called CSF) can leak for a variety of reasons, not just from spinal taps or similar procedures. Traumatic injuries can cause spinal fluid to leak, for one, as can smaller injuries and even daily activities. Something as small as lifting a large item or playing sports may trigger a spontaneous spinal CSF leak.
If you are suffering from positional headaches (headaches that get worse when positioned a certain way) and you are not sure of the cause, you may want to inquire about the possibility of a CSF leak.
Cervicogenic headaches. Your spinal health affects your entire body, which can include your neck and head. In fact, there are seven vertebrae in your neck (often called your “cervical spine”), which accounts for almost a third of the vertebrae in your spine. The neck’s proximity to the head can make pain easily transferrable between both areas.
Irritation or inflammation to these vertebrae can cause intense neck pain, which in turn leads to head pain and headaches. These types of headaches are often diagnosed as “cervicogenic headaches.” The following can cause irritation or inflammation to the cervical spine:
- Acceleration/deceleration injuries
Muscle tension in the neck. This is another common cause of neck and head pain. We’ve written in a previous blog post about bad habits that could cause tension and pain in your neck. Do you find yourself looking down at your phone often, or hold your held forward while stressfully navigating traffic in the morning? These might be the habits causing your neck and head pain.
How Can Chiropractors Treat Headaches?
Depending on the cause and type of headache, chiropractors can offer different treatments that will improve your spinal health, reduce headaches, and improve your overall wellbeing.
Spinal manipulations, the process of chiropractors gently adjusting and manipulating the alignment of your vertebrae, can offer relief from tension headaches. Studies show that spinal manipulation and other chiropractic treatments can also improve migraine symptoms.
Similar to treating any other types of inflamed or irritated vertebrae, adjustments to the cervical spine are key in treating cerviogenic headaches. Cervical degeneration is also available to increase the spaces between the cervical vertebrae. If your neck and head pain are caused by muscle tension, a chiropractor will be able to offer massage therapy services to reduce tension and provide pain relief throughout the cervical spine and head.
These are just a few of the chiropractic services and treatments available to help with your specific pain. A skilled chiropractor will be able to discuss your unique pain issues and provide services to treat and preventing future pain. For example, many chiropractors offer counseling and exercise routines that will improve your overall wellbeing.
We mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that a variety of factors could cause chronic headaches: diet, pain in other parts of the body, stress, and more. A licensed chiropractor will be able to sit down with you and find different ways to treat these seemingly unrelated factors.
Certain exercise routines may improve posture, and therefore reduce muscle tension in the neck and upper spine. Dietary changes can also reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. Looking at how your body functions as a whole, with the spine as the base that keeps it all together, can improve your entire quality of life.
If you are suffering from head pain, neck pain, or back pain, contact a Florida chiropractor today.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.