Neck pain and headache felt together is a common condition that affects people everywhere in the world. In the medical field, people who experience a headache accompanied by pain in the neck are most likely experiencing a cervicogenic headache. But what is it really? And why does one experience both symptoms of neck pain and headache? Can you opt for natural treatments like chiropractic care to manage this painful condition? Keep reading to know more about how this common condition and how chiropractors can make life better for patients with these symptoms.
What Causes Neck Pain and Headache?
The three most common types of headaches are migraine, tension, and cluster. Here’s what commonly causes them.
Tension headaches - this type of headache is often accompanied by pain in the neck. It slowly builds and causes a throbbing pain that is felt on both sides of the head. It may also feel dull and affect the back part of the head. Some of the underlying causes of tension headaches are stress, fatigue and muscle strain.
Cervicogenic Headache - this type of headache is a symptom that often results from conditions of the neck or cervical spine, including supporting tissues and bones. Apart from headache, this condition may also experience pain that affects one side of the head, limited range of motion of the neck, pain that comes from the back of the head or neck and goes behind the eyes. A person affected with this may also experience increasing pain due to pressure on the neck and a worsening pain as a result of certain movements.
Migraines - experts note that there are certain connections on migraines and neck pain. Likewise, migraine is due to a neurological condition affecting the brain. There are four phases, but people may not experience each of these phases when they have a migraine attack. These phases are known as the prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome. Headaches associated with migraine are often felt as throbbing on one side of the head. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms like sneezing, increased pain with movement, light sensitivity, coughing, nausea and vomiting. Almost 50 percent of people with migraine also experience neck pain.
How Do Chiropractors Diagnose Headache and Neck Pain?
Chiropractic care has always been a go-to alternative treatment for conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. For different types of pain that seems incurable, patients seek natural and alternative treatments available. For various headaches and neck pain conditions, chiropractors need to evaluate and assess your health situation to come up with the right diagnosis.
Upon visiting a chiropractic center, you will be asked for any referrals. The chiropractor will evaluate your posture and spine as a whole. This is because other areas of the neck, lower back and mid back may also be affected. Practitioners will try to address your spine and not just focus on the symptoms that you experience.
Before implementing a treatment plan, chiropractors will conduct a thorough examination to find out the specific cause of your pain. They will check for areas of the body with restricted movements and will ask patients to walk and stand up as well. Chiropractors will assess posture and spinal alignment of their patients so that they can better understand their body mechanics.
Additionally, chiropractors may also ask about the patient's medical history and match this with the findings on the physical examination. To further learn your health situation, they may also order laboratory and imaging tests such as MRI and X-ray. All these will be used to come up with the right diagnoses and the exact cause of your pain.
All the information gathered by the chiropractor will be used to help them create a customized treatment plan for their patients. In some cases, practitioners will refer you to a spine surgeon in case they believe that your condition is best treated through surgery.
Lastly, in their goal to provide a holistic approach to various health conditions, chiropractors may also help educate patients on the importance of proper stress management, better nutrition, lifestyle changes and others to complement your treatment plans.
Chiropractic Care and Treatment for Neck Pain and Headache
There are several treatment techniques that can be used by professional chiropractors in handling your painful neck and headaches. They may use a combination of manual therapy, manipulations and others in your treatment plan. Some of the common manipulation techniques that they use include the following:
Specific Manual-Manipulations - this technique will help restore joint movements in various areas of the body. Chiropractors use gentle thrusting movements and techniques for this type of spinal manipulation.
Flexion-distraction technique - this technique involves gentle, hands-on manipulations of the spine. Instead of direct force, it uses a quick pumping action applied on the intervertebral disks.
Instrument - assisted spinal manipulations - this technique involves the use of hand-held instruments which will apply a specific amount of force. Chiropractors use this instrument so that they do not thrust into the spine.
Manual Therapies for Treatment of Neck Pain and Headache
Apart from the usual chiropractic techniques used to address various sorts of pain, chiropractors may also conduct manual therapies to help treat neck pain and headache. Some of these therapies are the following:
Trigger Point Therapy - this is used to relieve painful and tight points of the muscles.
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques - this therapy helps lessen pain in the neck and other accompanying symptoms.
Therapeutic massage - helps relax tense muscles.
Instrument-assisted therapy for soft tissue - this treatment utilizes specific instruments for diagnosing and treating muscle tension.
Chiropractors may also apply other therapies to help ease the symptoms of headache and neck pain. They may use interferential electrical stimulation which uses low frequency current which stimulates muscles of the neck. Likewise, they use ultrasound to ease stiffness and pain in the neck by sending sound waves in the muscle tissues.
More so, therapeutic exercises are also recommended by practitioners to improve the patient’s overall range of motion in the neck and stop the condition from worsening.
All these chiropractic care, techniques and treatment are examples of what your practitioners may include in your treatment plan for your neck pain and headache. It will still depend on your diagnosis. Similarly, a chiropractor will explain the available options for your condition so that you will understand what will happen.
When Is Chiropractic Care Not Advised?
Before chiropractors will start treatment plans, they will first evaluate your condition and assess whether chiropractic care will work best for you or not. Although chiropractic treatments work for most painful conditions, it might not be the one for you if you have the following symptoms or conditions.
- Numbness or pain down from the shoulder, arms, and legs. It may indicate spinal cord injury or herniated disk. You may consult with a neurosurgeon or neurologist to check on you. If the symptoms are too severe, you may need to have surgery as soon as possible.
- Neck pain with headache, fever and vomiting, or if you are wincing due to the light. These symptoms indicate serious health conditions associated with meningitis. It is an infection of the membranes in the area of the spinal cord and brain. If you suspect meningitis, seek urgent medical attention.
Neck pain and headaches may also be due to other medical conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis. You may need muscle relaxants and other treatments to alleviate pain apart from chiropractic care.
Preventing Neck Pain and Headaches
Most of the pain we feel is due to simple habits and practices. To prevent headaches, and neck pain, here are some useful tips.
Practice Good Posture - avoid slouching and work ergonomically to keep your body’s alignment right. Put your computer monitor at eye level to prevent slouching as you work.
Change your Sleeping Position - some people are comfortable in a specific sleeping position, but it can put pressure on your neck and head. Try to keep your body aligned when lying down. You can also put pillows under your thighs as you sleep so that your spinal muscles are relaxed and flattened.
Take Frequent Breaks - stand up and move after sitting for some time in front of your computer. Stretch your neck and muscles.
Quit Smoking - smoking is often the culprit of various health conditions and pains. When a person stops smoking the body undergoes recovery and most symptoms disappear or eases down.
Why Choose Yentz Family Chiropractic
When visiting a new clinic, we often read comments and testimonials about the place before consulting personally. The Yentz Family Chiropractic located at the MaxLiving Health Center is a highly-recommended place if you need chiropractic care for your neck pain and headaches. The clinic does not only focus on treating your symptoms or easing your pain. They work to create and improve your whole body and persona. Yentz features services such as at-home spinal care services, specific and efficient spinal correction, nutritional plans and recommendations, scientifically-designed exercise programs and more. Book an appointment now and start your journey to holistic wellness!