The medical term for a neck headaches is a cervicogenic headache, a type of secondary headache caused by issues in the neck instead of the head. Twenty-four percent of all headache cases brought to doctors’ attention are secondary type headaches, according to researchers. Thankfully these headaches can be resolved by correcting the problem that is causing them.
Neck headaches can originate from various parts of neurovascular or musculoskeletal structures in your upper neck – within the upper three vertebrae (the C1, C2, and C3), neck muscles, and spinal cord coverings.
When there is a problem in this area, it sends pain signals through the trigeminocervical nucleus in the brainstem. These messages are received by your brain via your brainstem and from there they are interpreted as a headache.
When neck joints are too stiff, move too frequently, or are stuck in an abnormal position, it can lead to a neck headache, or even in some cases, facial pain.
Pain can sometimes begin in the neck when your neck muscles or shoulder blades are overworked, spasming, or knotted. The reason these muscles may become overworked is from protecting injured neck joints.
In other cases, certain muscles in the neck can become weak from lack of use, putting a higher demand on the other muscles and causing fatigue-related symptoms. In order for the neck muscles to function optimally, they should have normal resting tension.
Bony growths from arthritis, disc bulges, or swelling can lead to pinched or irritated neck nerves. The pain messages get sent along the nerve pathways and can cause headaches. One way to think about it is as if your neck is the switch and your nerves are the electrical wires. When the wires light up is when the headache happens.
These kinds of headaches can get confused with migraines since the symptoms are very similar. However, neck headaches symptoms are not nearly as severe as a migraine’s. Here is a list of secondary neck headaches symptoms:
One simple way to help with neck headaches is to be intentional about improving your posture. Here are a few tips to get you started. First, examine your current posture by asking someone to take a picture of you from three different angles: front, back, and side. Look for the obvious signs of proper posture; your head and neck should be positioned over your body.
Basically, you don’t want your forehead to be ahead of your chest, or your rear end to be sticking out behind you. See if you notice whether your hands hang evenly and if your hips are at the same level. You can use a free app like Posturezone to help you determine if your posture is correct. Always check in with your doctor or chiropractor before starting an exercise program.
If you choose the help of an upper cervical chiropractor, you may find exactly what you are looking for to relieve your neck headaches. We are a unique niche of chiropractors who focus on the top bones of the spine. Misalignments in this area can lead to issues such as neck headaches and other headache types.
The gentle method we use never requires popping or twisting the spine to get results. Instead, we encourage the bones to return to their proper position, and by doing so we provide a longer-lasting adjustment. Most of our patients and those in case studies come back with reports of significant improvements in their neck headaches issues after only one or two adjustments.
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if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.