Q: Could My Headaches Be Associated With My Neck?

By Dianne Allan



Q: Could my headaches be associated with my neck?

A: If it is the type that has been coming and going for a good while I would say ‘most probably’. The human body has some design features which are really ingenious. In a good posture the head balances on the top of the neck with very little muscle work, just try this:

• Sit up with your chin tucked in, eyes closed and pretend you are being suspended from the heavens by the crown of your head.

• Now try gently rocking your head 1mm in each direction.

Do you get a feeling of how sensitive that balance mechanism is?

It needs to be so sensitive to get accurate information from eyes and the balance mechanism in your ears. This is the information which is collated in the brain so that precise responses by delicate muscle control can follow. BUT, like all sensitive things (including people?) they can get upset and have effects elsewhere.

Both the upper part of the neck and the sensory nerves of the head converge on the same control point in the brain. This area is regulated by chemical messages which are affected by many things including hormonal changes, medication and moods. They seem to get so busy dealing with all the information they lose track of where it is coming from. This is an explanation as to how an upset neck can cause head pain. So, usually, there is nothing wrong with your head, there is just TMI (too much information) from your neck!

It is always worth exploring this neck factor even if you think there are other triggers for headaches such as sinus problems or food sensitivities because sometimes, once the neck is improved the other factors can become so minimal that headaches do not develop.

There are over 200 classifications of chronic headaches such as ‘migraine’, ‘tension-type’ and ‘sinus headaches’ to name but a few. There has been a lot of research into finding the best medication for each type but the cervical spine can be a major factor in all of them. What is more important when using the neck treatment approach is identifying the exact segment which has become ‘stuck’. Since the discovery of dilated blood vessels around the coverings of the brain were observed with migraines It was assumed that this was the cause of migraines but now experiments on measuring blood velocity have shown that this dilatation is more of a result rather than a cause of the head pain and associated symptoms.

One of the really great things about approaching headache management is that physiotherapists, osteopaths or similar professionals trained in this area are usually able to tell on the first assessment if neck treatments will be useful even between headaches.

For more information have a look at my website www.physiofettle.co.uk where there are links to the sources of this subject with more technical papers if you are that way inclined.

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