3 Hidden Culprits Causing Your Headaches

October 27, 2021

3 Hidden Culprits Causing Your Headaches

Almost everyone has experienced a headache at some point in time. In fact, it's the most common medical ailment that impacts the nervous system. Globally, around 50% of adults have experienced a headache disorder.

For some, headaches cause minor pain. For others, headaches can be extremely debilitating, impacting the ability to focus or to be productive.

Headaches can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Certain foods (ie. alcohol or foods with nitrates)
  • Lack of or changes in sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Stress
  • Skipping meals

However, there are also some hidden culprits that many people don’t think about as a potential cause of their headaches. Underlying issues such as jaw problems or activated trigger points often go unaddressed.

Here’s what you need to know about three hidden culprits that may be the cause behind your headaches.

#1.  Cervicogenic headaches 

While headaches can cost pain all over, most are a pain in the neck – literally. Cervicogenic headaches (CGH) occur when pain is felt in the neck and up to the head. These headaches usually occur on one side of the neck, face, or head. CGH pain is usually a dull, steady ache, though pain intensity can worsen.

Aside from neck, face, and head pain, CGH can also cause pain in the arm and shoulder of the affected side. It can also lead to blurry vision and even eye swelling. 

Pain is often triggered by sudden movements, such as coughing or sneezing, along with abnormal movements or positioning of the neck. Pressure applied to the back of the neck can also cause CGH.

CGHs are secondary, which means that they occur due to a neurological or physical condition that started first. The pain can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Poor Posture
  • Repetitive Stress Injuries
  • Auto accidents/Whiplash injuries
  • Muscle Spasms/Tension
  • And other similar problems

Though the pain begins in the cervical spine, this type of headache is often difficult for many doctors to diagnose, as pain isn't always felt in the neck. The symptoms are very similar to migraine and tension headaches, which also increases the risk of misdiagnosis.  This is where seeing a chiropractor can be extremely helpful as they are trained to be able to detect and diagnose these types of headaches.

#2.  TMJ problems

Most people would never think that the jaw could be the cause of their headaches. However, in some instances, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the culprit. This joint connects the jaw to the skull and enables things like talking, chewing, and laughing.

If there's something wrong within the joint, the TMJ's hinge and sliding motions can cause headaches. Problems within the TMJ are known as temporomandibular disorders.

Simple factors, such as consistent teeth grinding, can lead to a TMJ headache. These headaches tend to cause unique symptoms, including:

  • Jaw and/or facial pain
  • Tight jaw or facial muscles
  • Restricted jaw movement
  • Clicking noise in the jaw
  • Changes in the bite

Because TMJ headaches recur in various regions of the head and face, they're often mistaken for tension headaches.

#3.  Myofascial trigger points

Myofascial trigger points are palpable nodules within a taut band of skeletal muscle that is very sensitive to compression. Research has found that these trigger points play a large role in many chronic pain conditions, including primary headache disorders.

Active myofascial trigger points are very common in those who suffer from migraines as well as tension-type headaches. 

Myofascial trigger points can be stimulated by poor posture, muscle overuse, and psychological stress. Accidents that cause physical injury can also activate the trigger points.

How chiropractic care can help

Chiropractic care is well-known for its ability to relieve achy joints and sore muscles. However, chiropractic adjustments are also effective in relieving headache pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, spinal manipulation is a viable treatment option for headache sufferers.

By using targeted methodology, the spine's alignment can be adjusted to improve spinal function while also alleviating stress and pressure on the nervous system. When the spine is in proper alignment, the body is able to function normally and there's less stress and tension, which are often the underlying cause of headache pain.

Chiropractic therapy is commonly sought to treat cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches, and migraines. Because cervicogenic headaches don't respond well to medication, spinal manipulation is highly recommended.

Joint mobilization and deep neck flexion exercises can also be used to ease cervicogenic headaches. For migraines, neuromuscular massage, also known as trigger point therapy, can offer much needed relief.

TMJ relief

Chiropractic care can also help to ease problems with the TMJ. There are three main muscles that will be addressed, including the masseter, the temporalis, and the pterygoid, along with the jaw joint and the suboccipital muscles.

Soft tissue techniques are used to adjust the TMJ and the surrounding tissues and muscles. These adjustments help to realign the jaw, which relieves tension and pressure.

Myofascial trigger points

Chiropractors can treat a variety of myofascial pain syndromes, including myofascial trigger points, through the use of manual myofascial therapy. This includes applying direct pressure to the trigger point or using anchor-and-stretch myofascial release techniques.

Physical modalities and specific exercises along with acupuncture and dry-needling can also be effective in treating myofascial pain.

Trusted Chiropractor in Meridian

Headaches are more than just painful. For some, they can be debilitating. If you’re struggling with headaches and are looking for an innovative treatment option, schedule a consultation with a Meridian chiropractor at Align Integrated Medical.

Our team specializes in solving functional health problems by targeting the underlying cause. Instead of offering temporary symptom relief, we approach health problems with a “fundamental medicine” approach.

In providing chiropractic care for headaches, we identify potential causes and create a treatment plan to address them. Instead of focusing on the what, the team at Align Integrated Medical focuses on the why.

Stop letting headaches affect your health and happiness. Schedule a consultation today to learn how chiropractic care can relieve your headaches once and for all.

Chad Woolner
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