Updated: Aug 13, 2020
“It feels like my scalp it being pulled back”
“It’s like a vice grip seeing down on my temples”
“Everyday it creeps up on me and won’t go away until I fall asleep, and lately I’m even waking up with them”
These are just a few of the ways our practice members describe their tension headaches AKA stress headaches but also often diagnosed at cervicogenic headaches.
Cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache, which means that it is caused by another illness or physical issue. In the case of cervicogenic headache, the cause is a disorder of the cervical spine and its component bone, disc and/or soft tissue elements.
Lately I’ve seen a huge spike in headache and migraine cases. This is because of the undue stress that we have all been put under with the current crisis. People are feeling huge amount of emotional stress, which is often felt in the neck and shoulders as tension or stiffness. Pair that with many people working from home, at a laptop on the kitchen table, or worse yet, the couch! These dismal ergonomic positions are wreaking havoc on people's posture, and the ultimate postural support, your spine. This can cause spinal misalignments also known as Vertebral Subluxation Complexes.
Of course, drugs can make the pain disappear, but it just returns the next day.
Stress reduction techniques like deep breathing, or mediation are essential, but do not need to be done in any kind of “woo woo” way, in fact these techniques are very mainstream at this point.
I of course always recommend massage or other forms of soft tissue or body work to address the myofascial tension component.
However, what most people miss is their spinal alignment. Yoga or stretching can help, but with taking a thorough look at the spine you are clueless to if it is the root cause of your tension headaches. See what I find is it is often the primary condition, yet we treat all the secondary conditions from the misalignment. We massage and stretch only to get tense again. We pop pills and the pain comes right back. We practice relaxation techniques only to go right back into our stressed out “fight or flight” survival responses because that is where we are stuck.
I use a thorough neurological exam and specialized x-ray exam to find the exact vertebrae(s) (spinal bones) that are misaligned. I then use a focused type of adjustment that is very gentle, and realigns one bone at time, so no twisting, popping or cracking of the neck. I find this focused approach gets the quickest and most predictable results. In fact I can confidently say I have never had a person with headaches that I couldn’t help!
If you are struggling with tension headaches, try a few of the recommendations I gave above. If you are doing those and they are not working, consider coming in for a neurological evaluation and consultation to see if we could help you feel better and live your best life!!