Headache & Migraine

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Headache are a common ailment, but when does a headache turn into a migraine? Migraines can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually just on one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hour and sometimes even days; migraines can be so severe that the pain is disabling.

Some people can identify the cause of their migraines, such as allergies, light and stress; some can identify warning signs before a migraine starts. Unfortunately however, many people can be blindsided by the symptoms and have yet to identify their personal cause.

Additional migraine symptoms include:

  • Moderate to severe pain, usually confined to one side of the head, but can occur on either side of the head.
  • a severe, throbbing, pulsing pain
  • Increased pain during physical activity or when straining
  • Inability to perform regular activities due to pain.
  • Feeling sick and physically vomiting.
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound, often relieved by lying quietly in a darkened room.
  • Less commonly: sweating, temperature changes, stomach ache, and diarrhea

 

Tension headaches, often called stress headaches, are dull pain, tightness, or pressure around your forehead or on the back of your head and neck and most commonly affect adults. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days. Tension headaches can be episodic, meaning you get them less than 15 days per month, or they can be chronic. Although they cause a dull pain, they do not affect your vision, balance, or strength. The symptoms are slight, including pressure around the forehead and tenderness around forehead and scalp.

Tension Headaches can be caused by a number of things, including, but not limited to:

  • alcohol
  • eye strain
  • dry eyes
  • fatigue
  • smoking
  • a cold or flu
  • a sinus infection
  • caffeine
  • poor posture
  • emotional stress

How can a Brain-Based Approach help me?

The basic background of the head and neck junction is essential to understand. The lower 2/3 of your neck is fairly stable. However, the upper 1/3 of your neck is much more mobile and complex. It also has major influence relating to brain communication, as it functions similar to a relay station, so it’s incredibly important. 

When you have any type of injury, even if it’s a minor fall or accident form years ago, it can cause damage to the ligaments (the ‘glue’) that support your neck alignment. If this occurs, your head and neck can become slightly misaligned as shown in the picture above. This causes 3 main problems: 

  1. When the top two bones in the spine misalign, the fluid that flows between your brain and body doesn’t flow smoothly (both the blood, and cerebrospinal fluid). The twisted pathway is similar to a river frothing around a curve, and causes inflammation. This can lead to headache and brain fog, among many other symptoms. 
  2. The muscles become imbalanced, affecting signals from the muscles back to the brain. The suboccipital muscles (right where your head meets your neck) supporting your neck become most imbalanced, causing pain or tension at the base of your skull. 
  3. The imbalance causes further neck stiffness and pain. Inflammation and irritation near the brainstem can interfere with the information signaling between your brain and body, so the body remains imbalanced until a specific correction is obtained. 

A specific exam from a NUCCA doctor can tell you whether this type of misalignment is contributing to your post concussion symptoms. If it is, a precise, gentle correction to the neck based on biomechanical calculations can restore head and neck alignment to: 

  • improve blood flow between the brain and body
  • improve brain-body balance and communication to decrease pain
  • balance muscle tone

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