Headaches can be a tricky condition for many health professionals. There are many different types of headaches like tension, migraines, sinus, cluster, cervicogenic, and hypertensive headaches. Many times, people have multiple types of headaches, which makes it even more complicated. In some part, the type of headache you are having is determined by the anatomy that is generating the pain signal. In this article, I want to talk about causes of primary headaches or headaches caused by something outside of the brain itself. These headaches do not include causes like tumors, strokes, or other pathologies.
What structures can cause a headache?
- Arteries in the brain
Through science and research, we know that many migraines are caused by arteries in the brain that swell and lead to inflammation of the nerves that are connected to the artery. The nerve endings connected to the artery then transmit to the trigeminal ganglion causing the pain portion of the headache. Drugs used to treat migraines reduce the swelling of these brain arteries.
- Upper Neck Nerve Roots
When a head or neck injury occurs, like a whiplash or concussion, it can irritate the top 3 nerves in your spine and generate pain across the back and top of the head. It can also lead to occipital neuralgia, a condition that causes constant severe pain or numbness in the skull.
- Head and Neck Muscles
Tension type headaches are often caused by the muscles of the head and the neck. Muscles like the splenius capitus can generate pain that refers into the head. The jaw muscles also can cause pain. TMJ patients also usually have headache issues as well.
The meninges are a soft tissue structure that surrounds the brain, spinal, cord, and nerves. We know that the meninges can cause headaches because of a condition called meningitis. Most have heard that meningitis is a serious condition. Inflammation and infection occurs in the meninges during meningitis and a common symptom in meningitis is a terrible headache.
- Spinal Joint Dysfunction
The last cause of a headache can be joint dysfunction in the neck. Joints of the neck are responsible for postural feedback to the brain. Cervicogenic headaches are typically due to dysfunctional neck joints.
What do these structures have in common?
It all comes down to a bundle of nerves called the trigeminal complex. It is the hub for almost all pain signals of the head and neck. All the above structures get transmitted and processed by these nerves. If we can change the function of the trigeminal complex, then we can help someone’s headache disorder.
How can structural chiropractic help?
We know that when the head and neck are in the normal structural alignment, that the trigeminal complex can function properly. When a structural shift occurs in the upper neck, it can create scrambled signals into the brain and allows pain to be the dominant message. The nerves at the top of the neck can dampen pain signals and stop the headache process from even starting. Therefore, our success rate is very high in dealing with headache patients.
Are you looking for a Neuro-Structural Chiropractor for you or your family in the Sarasota, FL area? Would you like Dr. Morris to review your health history? Would you like to know if you or your child is a candidate for structural chiropractic care? Schedule a FREE Consultation below.
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