You know the feeling of your eyes starting to hurt, forehead starting to pound and even your neck feeling like a big ball of tension? A headache is coming on again and it’s time to reach for the Advil, Tylenol or other type of pain pill to numb it. Why does this keep happening?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 47% of the world’s population suffers from headaches. It has been shown that, headaches are a complicated series of electrical events that basically send the nerves around your scalp and even inside your brain into chaos. Headaches can be triggered from a variety of events such as muscle tension, poor neck posture, injuries, allergies and smells. The vast majority of headaches are related to problems with the posture and function of the neck. This places excessive demand on the neck muscles, causing chemical irritation, which then not only irritates the nerves in certain areas of the scalp, but can actually alter blood flow to parts of the scalp and even brain.
Where tension headaches are can tell you the root cause of the problem
- Headaches in the forehead or back of the head are typically related to problems with the function of C1 or the first vertebrae in the uttermost neck
- Headaches to the temple area on one or more sides are an indicator of a problem with the C1-C3 areas of the neck
- Headaches that are preceded by muscle pain in the mid part of the neck, are often caused by limited motion in the lower neck / upper back area C6-T2
- Headaches happening more at the end of the day are typical of poor muscle endurance and strength of the shoulder and upper back / neck muscles
Fixing the cause of headaches
- Watch your posture! Sit upright, walk around tall and do exercises standing flat with your back against a wall.
- Breathe properly. Stressful work and home situations cause your breathing to become shallower. As this happens on a chronic basis, you breathe incorrectly with your neck muscles instead of your diaphragm. Your neck muscles will then tighten up, causing frequent headaches.
- Improve the flexibility of your neck and upper back joints. Changes in the function and movement of your neck and upper back joints can easily trigger chronic headaches by causing muscle spasms.
- Drink enough water. More and more research points to chronic dehydration of the body and brain as a cause of headaches. If you drink sodas, coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages, these are actually diuretics, causing your body to eliminate water. Instead of soda or flavored beverages, drink more water!
- Avoid processed foods and high fat foods. A simple solution is to avoid food that comes in a box. Buy fresh produce and fuel your body. The chemistry of most processed foods builds up to toxic levels in the body and can ruin normal body functions, especially those of the nervous system.
- Have a regular physical therapy checkup. Physical therapists are the medical experts of body movement and constantly treat patients with headaches. Through restoring proper body posture, strength and joint mobility, headaches can be alleviated for good.
If you find yourself suffering with a headache more than 3 times a month, it is time for you to discover the root cause of your pain, before it becomes a real big problem. Call HealthQuest Physical Therapy today to have a thorough physical therapy evaluation of your neck and spine, discovering the true mechanism of your headaches and finding relief for good!