Millions of Americans experience frequent headache and migraine symptoms. While headaches are incredibly common, they should not be viewed as a normal or mundane issue. Many of those suffering from headaches endure unbearable symptoms that make it almost impossible to complete everyday tasks. While there are many different causes, spinal misalignment is one of the most common.
In this article, we’ll discuss how bad spine alignment can cause headaches and what can be done to reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches in the short- and long-term.
How Can Bad Spine Alignment Cause Headaches?
Specific types of headaches, such as cervicogenic headaches, or headaches caused by problems in the neck, are caused by poor spinal alignment; specifically, these headaches are caused by individual vertebrae segments that are misaligned and fixated as well as by global misalignment, which is a loss of the neck curvature. During one of these headaches, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pulsating or throbbing pain in one or more areas of the head
- Neck pain and/or stiffness
- Back pain
While the symptoms can vary from person to person, the root cause is similar across the board. The cervical spine misalignment can irritate the nerves traveling through this region and cause mild constriction in the vessels carrying blood to the brain. The symptoms can also be caused by abnormal pressure on the vertebrae, creating inflammation. In most cases, these headaches or migraines occur without warning. What causes these misalignments? There are several possible factors, including:
- Poor posture during daily activities.
- Physical traumas/injuries.
- Poor sleeping habits.
- Excessive emotional stress or anxiety.
If bad spine alignment causes your headaches, they can gradually become more frequent and even debilitating. Finding short-term relief through pain medications will only mask the issue, and if left untreated, misalignments can even lead to more serious issues, such as:
- Greatly reduced range of motion and flexibility.
- Body numbness.
- Issues with balance and/or unstable gait (walking pattern).
- Systemic diseases (i.e. high blood pressure).
- Weakened immune response.
- Disc degeneration and arthritis.
Instead of simply taking medication for frequent headaches, a better treatment route is to visit a chiropractor to determine if your headache is being caused by a spinal subluxation and allow them to create a plan to help fix the problem.
Finding Headache Relief with Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic adjustments have been proven to have a significant impact when it comes to reducing headache frequency and intensity. When combined with healthy habits for headache relief, such as temperature therapy, healthy diets, and stress management, chiropractic care can provide significant headache or migraine relief and eliminate the spinal triggers that may be causing them.
To understand how restoring cervical spine misalignment can reduce pain caused by cervicogenic headaches (headaches caused by neck misalignment), a study was conducted using a control group of 30 patients that underwent spinal manipulation and mobilization (to enhance joint function), myofascial release (using trigger points to reduce muscle tension), and therapeutic exercises, and an experimental group of 30 patients that underwent all of these plus deneroll cervical extension traction, which involves using a spinal orthotic device to restore the natural c-curve to the cervical spine.
After 10 weeks of treatment, both groups in the study saw a reduction from 80% to 46-48% on the headache disability index, a questionnaire used to scale headache pain and quality of life, with 80% being complete disability from pain and 46-48% being moderate pain. This short-term relief happened for both groups with or without neck curve restoration. However, during the one- and two-year follow-ups, the control group with no curve restoration saw a worsening of pain symptoms that were up to 67% on the headache disability index, while the experimental group undergoing neck traction to restore the natural c-curve saw a drop in symptoms—down to 19% the first year and 16% the second year.
This study showed that short-term treatment will temporarily improve symptoms, but long-term treatment and curve restoration allows the body to fully benefit from the treatment. This is why it’s important for patients seeking long-term relief to find a chiropractor that includes spinal traction, muscle work, and exercises in the treatment plans.
Through the use of Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP), we work to bring your spine back to its natural alignment and restore balance to alleviate the headache, beginning with an extensive consultation in which we thoroughly assess your headache symptoms and their impact on your daily activities. With our comprehensive treatment plans, we restore the natural neck curve in the spine to allow the body’s automatic healing process to restart and function normally, granting significant pain relief. We take a series of spinal and postural biometric readings to give us a clear picture of your current cervical curvature and the best spinal alignment to eliminate the subluxation. Once we have your health and alignment goals set, we provide three phases of care for long-term headache relief:
During this phase, our focus will be on providing relief through adjustments and other stretching techniques aimed at alleviating immediate pain and preparing your body for the corrective phase.
In this phase, we use the most advanced and effective chiropractic and physiotherapy protocols to correct the global spinal misalignment and improve postural habits during daily activities such as sitting and exercising.
Once the corrective care phase ends, we shift our focus to facilitating long-term headache relief by maintaining your improved posture and cervical curvature. We also schedule annual appointments to analyze your spinal alignment and ensure there is no regression.
If you’re experiencing headache or migraine symptoms with no definitive cause, try scheduling a consultation with one of our doctors here at PostureWorks to start your journey to pain relief and improved spinal health.
PostureWorks renders nonsurgical rehabilitation of the spine and posture using Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP. CBP is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. To learn more about how bad spine alignment can cause headaches or to schedule your consultation to be one step closer to a pain-free life, contact us today.