Neck Pain

Headache from the Neck? Dealing with the “Cervicogenic Headache”

Posted on October 3, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Cervicogenic headache, Chiropractic, headache, Health, Neck Pain | Tags: , , , , , |

cervicogenic

Almost everyone has had a “headache” but did you know there are at least 150 different types of headaches?  There are vascular, condition specific, tension, cluster, migraine, environmental, disease related and the list goes on.  One of the most prevalent headaches I see at the clinic is that which is called the “Cervicogenic  Headache”.  It’s classified as a secondary headache which means that its caused by another issue other than directly in the head.  Pain is perceived as occurring in a part of the body other than its true source, a type of “referred pain”.  Simply put, perceived in the head from a source in the neck.

By identifying the type of headache, corrective measures can then be taken but it’s not always easy to determine the headaches because many symptoms and patterns are similar.  Cervicogenic headaches often feel as painful as a migraine and typically pain is located on one side of the head.  The pain seems to start at the back and wrap itself up and over the top to the side of the head.   Cervicogenic means that it’s coming from the neck, though neck pain may not be felt.  There are structures right at the base of the skull where it attaches to the spine along which arteries and nerves run.  If they get irritated or compressed, it can be problematic.  If you push at the base of the skull, it’s extremely tender, even light pressure above the nerve can hurt too.

For these types of headaches, a chiropractic adjustment can help dissipate that pain.  What happens here is that proper motion and relationship is being restored within the structures.  Abnormal tensions are reduced, pressure is lessened, muscles start to relax, and blood vessels return to normal flow and things start to heal in fairly short order.

Patients who are prone to neck and shoulder pain may experience these types of headaches more so than others.  It can be aggravated by sitting at computers or excessive cell phone use, especially with forward head posture because there is so much tension on the back of the neck.  If the head is dropped forward, the muscles then try to pull backwards, creating a kind of tug of war.  When the neck is out of alignment for long periods, chronic headaches can develop.  One of my top recommendations that you can practice at home and at any time is having good posture.  When you correct your posture, you take tension off the neck.  This can substantially reduce the occurrence of headaches.

Another recommendation is acupuncture. It can relax the muscles and also provide extra effects on the top of the head right in the muscular tension itself.  There are specific acupuncture points we use that directly target headaches. While chiropractic can work at the source of the headache, acupuncture can work directly on the source itself.  The good news is that there are natural therapies that can be used to help these headaches instead of ongoing dependence of medication.

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Stopping Neck & Shoulder Pain

Posted on April 6, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, Health, inflammation, injury, rebuild, Neck Pain, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , |

dr greg neck exercises cut out

Dr. Greg shows some simple neck exercises

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic

Neck and shoulder pain come in many shapes and forms.  There’s the sharp & stabbing type, sometimes coming from an arthritic joint or perhaps from something as simple as bending it in the wrong direction.  Sometimes it feels like it’s a grinding sort of pain and other times it feels heavy and stiff.  Whether the neck pain is a muscular or pinched nerve type, it usually doesn’t originate just in the neck but the uppermost part of the back, where a lot of muscles are activated and connect.  In order to be thorough and correct the problem, all these areas need to be addressed and assessed.

Oftentimes, headaches are caused by neck & shoulder issues.  If the muscles in the front of the neck are spasming, it can create a headache on the side of the head.  Tight trapezius and shoulder girdle areas can refer pain up the back of the head, and at the base of the skull, the deeper layer or muscles, when contracted or spasming can irritate blood vessels or nerves and produce “migraine” symptoms.

The feeling of an electrical shock or jolt running down the arm may indicate a nerve compression of some sort while a tightness or achy pain could result from a muscle strain from training at the gym.

The type of pain itself can often help identify the problem and therapies to be used for pain relief.  Ice packs are great to help reduce sharp pain while a stiff pain can be helped with ice and then heat.  The most effective therapy I have found is a combination of both chiropractic and acupuncture.  The chiropractic adjustment can help relieve muscle tension and restore some motion on just the first visit.  Subsequent visits keep increasing that range of motion, resulting in pain relief and longer term can restore proper alignment.  Add in the use of electrical stimulation and infrared heat and spasms and tightness can be also be reduced.  Acupuncture can also give a pretty satisfying analgesic effect by helping reduce muscle tension and inflammation.

One thing that can help reduce and prevent neck & shoulder pain is to focus on mobility and correct posture.  Gentle stretching and proper movement can keep the areas flexible and lubricated.  If you sit at the computer all day with your head leaning forward and hardly move, the strained position will eventually destroy the curve of the neck.  Inflammation also occurs, and nothing seems to fit in the right place.  The ligaments are no longer in the correct position and the front muscles start to shrink (because they are always contracted) while the back of the neck muscles are over stretched and weakened.  A great deal of this can be remedied by taking breaks to gently stretch the neck & shoulders, having the computer monitor & chair at the right height, as well as sitting tall and upright with the head in alignment with the shoulders.  The earlier you catch & remedy the problem, the faster you’ll see relief and following these simple suggestions can help deter that pain from the start.

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