We’ve had several folks in this past week suffering from headaches, whether it be a lifelong problem or an acute couple of days. Regardless, ANY type of headache is far from enjoyable. So, we wanted to give our two cents as to why headaches can occur and, more importantly, what you can do about it!
5 Causes of Headaches
1. Cervical Spine Dysfunction. If the cervical spine itself is not moving properly, particularly at the C1-C3 nerve root levels, headaches can certainly occur. I say all the time that nearly 70% of headaches are cervicogenic, caused by the neck. The nerve roots of C1-C3 have branches that run across the entire head and face. So you can appreciate, by the picture below, that if there’s a problem with this area of the neck, those nerve roots can certainly send some pain signals to the brain, hence headaches!
2. Tight Upper Back Muscles. If you know anyone that suffers with headaches that originate at the back of the head and shoot to the eye ball or travel to the forehead, temples and eyes, the upper back musculature will typically be tight. This is because this muscles in the upper back literally attach to each bone of the cervical spine and the skull. Tight muscles of upper back will eventually lead to a tight neck. So #1 and #2 causes are absolutely related to each other.
3. TMJ Dysfunction. Refer to the picture above. Very often, when a patient has headaches and is asked if they have TMJ issues, the answer will often be “yes.” Why? Because the nerve plexus from the jaw ALSO spans across the face and head. Often times these headaches are more-so around the temporal and eye regions. There are several causes of TMJ dysfunction, which I could write an entire article on. Regardless, understand that we can certainly give treating your TMJ dysfunction and any associated headaches a shot. Again, #1-3 are commonly all present at once.
4. Magnesium Deficiency. It’s estimated that upwards of 90% of people are deficient in magnesium these days. This is mainly because we are decimating our soil with toxic pesticides and other garbage that chelates minerals from the soil. This is why we so often recommend the magnesium we carry in the office. Migraine sufferers, in particular, tend to be magnesium deficient.
5. Food Sensitivities and Gut Dysfunction. Wait...what? What you eat can cause headaches? YES! Ever heard of the gut-brain axis? It’s a scientifically validated connection. What you eat absolutely affects what happens with your brain. Eating an improper diet, which is completely individual for everyone, can lead to neuro-inflammation of the brain. There are common triggers like gluten, dairy, certain grains, nightshades, etc. Red wine, certain chocolates and cheeses, and many food additives are common migraine triggers. So, if a patient is willing to change their dietary approach, we will often start with removing one or more of these triggers.
There are several more causes of headaches like hormonal imbalance, dehydration, other vitamin and mineral deficiencies, environmental toxins, caffeine, allergies, etc. However, let’s give you a few quick tips. And these aren’t rocket science if you read the above.
What To Do For Headaches
1. Try chiropractic care. Going through a dedicated set of adjustments can be a very good starting point. Just consider the numbers (70% of headaches originate in the cervical spine).
2. Consider supplementation with our Cognimag magnesium.
3. Consider removing one of the above food triggers from the diet. It can be helpful to keep a log of your headache patterns and note what foods could possibly be contributing.
4. Hydrate properly. I like the drink when your thirsty approach. However some folks swear by the gallon a day and body weight in ounces approach. Either way, focus on drinking more water.
5. Consider acupuncture. Most of you know Adam, the acupuncturist in our building. He can do wonders as well to help the body regulate pain pathways.
Hope you find this information useful. As always, we are here to serve you and your family for your health needs.