Do you think it is normal to get headaches?

We treat a wide variety of conditions here at Park View Acupuncture and Chiropractic Clinic. However, one of the routine questions we always ask during the case history is: “Do you get headaches?” and a very common answer is: “No more than everyone else” or words to that effect. How often does ‘everyone else’ get headaches? You shouldn’t get headaches at all, except when dehydrated or maybe after a little too much alcohol (yes, the good old hangover). Yet, a lot of people think that monthly, weekly or even daily headaches are normal!

Headaches are NOT NORMAL. Like just about every type of pain they are there tell you that something is wrong. Whereas your headache may not be life threatening it can certainly make you tired, irritable and stop you from enjoying life to the full.

Frequently the source of the pain is the neck giving rise to the term ‘cervicogenic headaches’ (headaches arising from the neck) although sometimes they may be mislabelled as ‘stress headaches’. You may not necessarily have neck pain, or even have noticed any restriction in neck movement, but some of the joints in the neck can still be stiff and jammed. The offending structures tend to be close to where your head meets your neck and they are often tender if you prod them. If you maintain the pressure you may be able to temporarily relieve or aggravate the pain. The possible reasons for this joint stiffening are numerous and can happen anytime from birth onwards. It can happen suddenly through jarring your neck, bumping your head, falls or stumbles, traffic accidents and so on, but also gradually through poor posture, extensive driving or sitting at a desk in front of the computer, badly performed exercises at home, in the gym or in the swimming pool etc. The neck is essentially a flexible rod balancing your head above your torso. An average head weighs 11lb or 5 kg. If you try balancing an 11lb weight on top of an 8-inch flexible rod for 14 to 16 hours a day then you will understand the strain the neck is under!

Therefore, part of our routine examination, regardless of symptoms, is a neck examination and very few people have perfectly functioning necks. Seeing the body as whole rather than as individual isolated body parts, we tend to advise that all the stiff joints in the spine are freed up where possible – not just the ones, which are obvious to you.

Releasing the stiff neck joints can give some remarkable results dramatically reducing or even eliminating the head pains. Often people realise that their neck was stiff after all. The duration of the stiffness, your injury history, permanent ‘wear and tear’ damage and your lifestyle will, of course, have a bearing on the amount of treatment required and over what period. The best long-term results are achieved by combining treatment with exercises and advice on how to minimise the chance of recurrence. Over time persistent bad habits, poor posture or unavoidable tasks at work or at home may recreate some of the stiffness. This is when regular maintenance treatment comes in to its own. A treatment every 2 to 4 months can often stop the headaches from recurring.

If you or any of your friends and family suffer from ‘normal’ headaches there is a good chance that we can make them be thing of the past. Just call us to schedule a free assessment or a new patient appointment, and if the pain is indeed likely to come from your neck treatment could get underway within a few days.

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