When most people get a headache, they assume they are over-stressed, fatigued or dehydrated. While these symptoms are certainly common causes of headaches, there are some additional causes that few people are aware of. It is possible for back, neck, shoulder and even leg pain to spur some truly nasty headaches. The sad truth is that plenty of headaches receive an improper diagnosis of migraines.
Some patients spend years attempting to treat headache pain with medication when the real cause of a headache is a pain in the back, neck or shoulder. By meeting with us, you just might find your physical pain is the true cause of your headaches.
How Physical Pain can Cause Headaches
While it seems somewhat counter-intuitive, treating physical pain can alleviate headaches. The muscles of the upper back connect to the base of the skull. If these muscles tighten too much, they will pull the upper neck joints to the point that they compress and result in headaches. In such an instance, mobilizing or re-aligning the joint might alleviate a headache.
Poor posture headaches are particularly common amongst those who work in offices. Some patients experience headaches as a result of clenching the jaw while sleeping. This clenching spurs a tightening of the muscles in the face and neck, causing a headache. A pinched nerve in the neck or upper portion of the back can also spur pain in the neck, back and head.
This pain has the potential to be severe to the point that it causes pain beyond headaches including nausea and vertigo. Stress has the potential to lead to backaches as well as headaches. Whether the stress is due to another physical malady, work pressure or an emotional issue, it is quite common for people suffering from back pain to develop frequent severe headaches.
Understanding How Headaches Affect the Body
The shoulder is held in position with muscle tone as opposed to joint compression. The trapezius, serratus anterior, levator scapula and rhomboid muscles are essential for support. Two such muscles, the trapezius and levator scapula connect directly to the neck bones or the skull’s base. If these areas have any functionality flaws, the muscles and joints will not move properly. Such faulty movement will spur stress to tissues that induce neck pain as well as headaches.
If the upper portion of the trapezius weakens or lengthens, the shoulder blade will sink beneath the trunk, making the levator scapula extremely vulnerable. If this occurs, the levator scapula must perform the work of multiple muscles. Such a situation will lead to neck pain and possible headaches. It is also possible for arm pain to spur headaches.
If the muscles responsible for holding the arm in place are not functioning as they should, compression, extension and rotation of the cervical vertebrae can occur in addition do disk issues. There is even the potential for leg pain to cause headaches to boot. This is precisely why patients should never assume frequent headaches are just the result of stress. It is always better to meet with us for a full analysis, to identify the root cause of the headaches and proceed with a customized treatment plan.
People who suffer from headaches should seek the advice of a doctor and/or physiotherapist to determine if the cause of the pain is related to another body site. Do not settle on a long-term pain management strategy until you consult with such a medical professional. An experienced doctor will help you settle on the least invasive means of treating your headaches.
There is no reason to get frustrated if it takes some time to identify the exact cause of your headaches. Even the most experienced doctors often find it difficult to piece together the puzzle of headache pain. Some patients find headache relief through physiotherapy sessions.
We understand how to treat back, arm or neck-related headaches and can also recommend medication if necessary. In fact, such physiotherapy sessions might even prevent a course of long-term treatment. Those who experience headaches while clenching their teeth during sleep often find relief with a bite guard.
Other Methods for Relief
Plenty of patients find mobilizing the muscles, joints and ligaments that have tightened reduces headache frequency or even eliminates them. In some cases, altering posture and performing posture exercises will prevent such structures from tightening. Some patients find relief through treatment provided by a headache chiropractor or trauma chiropractor.
Chiropractic adjustments are particularly effective for those suffering from tension headaches and headaches stemming from neck pain. Others find relief through alternative medicine, wellness centers and even trigger point injections. Prevention is always better than searching for a cure. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle should be hyper-aware of their posture. Correcting poor sitting posture can help prevent physical pain and consequently prevent the onset of headaches.
The bottom line is each patient’s case is unique. The treatment that works for your headache might not work for the next patient’s headache and so on. Meet with us to determine the best approach to treating your headaches and/or physical pain.
If you would like to learn more about Headache Treatment and the various treatments we provide, call (714) 604-1599 to schedule a consultation.