Headaches are challenging to diagnose. There are plenty of potential causes of headaches and a thorough history and examination must be performed to increase the odds of an accurate diagnosis. If we don’t understand your headache and the way it behaves and responds, then we’d just be guessing!
If you have tried the traditional approaches why do you keep experiencing headaches?
The common approach to relieving headaches is to take medication. Anti-inflammatories are used to reduce inflammation and decrease symptoms. Muscle relaxers are sometimes prescribed with the hope of reducing muscular tension. Sometimes narcotic pain relievers will be prescribed in an attempt to disguise the symptoms. And sometimes a “shotgun approach” of all 3 will be prescribed – usually because the physician is unsure what the pain generator is.
The primary reason that medications may not provide resolution is that your headache may not be chemically driven – it may be mechanical, meaning: based on daily movements, sustained positions, and postures. The medications do not address the underlying cause – they are treating the “what (the symptoms)” and not the “WHY”.
There are many potential “WHY’s”: your muscles, nerves, joints, ligaments, fascia. It could be your posture, workspace, or stress – or it may be environmental triggers like sugar, caffeine, allergens, or food sensitivities. If these underlying issues are not addressed you may be caught in a pain-medication-pain cycle. The end result is often temporary relief and dependence on medication.
Research has shown that up to 78% of headaches are cervicogenic in nature. The term cervicogenic simply refers to headaches that are referrals from the cervical spine (neck). If your headache is variable, meaning it moves, travels, and radiates, then it is likely a cervicogenic headache. Think about what positions and activities you’re doing when you get a headache. Your headache must be approached through a problem-solving process where we work as a team to determine the root cause. Fortunately, there is often a simple solution!
How are cervicogenic headaches treated?
Following a thorough history and examination, we are often able to identify the pain generator. Once the pain generator has been identified the appropriate headache treatment method must be selected. We use many tools and techniques to help headaches, but many cases respond well to Active Release Techniques (ART). ART is a movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Most headache cases are a result of sustained tension in the neck musculature, aka, poor posture.
We are also big proponents of prescribing very specific exercises to combat your headache, which helps us understand how your headache behaves. Your prescribed movement based on your headache presentation becomes your new “movement pill”. If we can determine a cause and effect relationship with your “movement pill” and how your headache behaves, then you can take control of your headaches and truly understand them.
To stop living with headaches, please contact us here in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. Feel free to check out patient testimonials on Google, Facebook, or in the review section of our website to read about patients we’ve helped with headaches and other issues!