26 Jan Why Chocolate, Stress and Poor Posture Don’t Cause Your Headaches….And how Jackie went from 5 headaches a week to none!
Dr Alex Ritza – Your Downtown Toronto Chiropractor
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Upon palpating her neck it was obvious that the upper neck was extremely irritated and sensitive to the point that gentle challenge of the upper neck joints caused headache like symptoms.
Fast forward a few months and Jackie has not had more than a handful of headaches since. I can palpate her neck without us grimacing in pain at its dysfunctional state. She can tolerate stress, poor sleep, going to the gym and activities of a normal life that were once all contributors to headaches and misery.
It is always an important part of our care to try to improve lifestyle factors and reduce negative stressors. But I think you would agree that it makes more sense to fix the underlying problem safely, specifically and effectively so it doesn’t come back?
The majority of headaches that chiropractors manage successfully like migraines (with or without aura), tension headaches, or cervicogenic headaches (coming from the neck) are the result of irritation of pain and sensory nerves of the upper back and neck. Headaches simply are the result of an irritated and dysfunctional nervous system associated with the upper spine. Period. Full Stop.
If these nerves are calm and healthy then you will not have a headache.
When the joints and muscles of the cervical vertebrae in the neck become irritated by chemical or physical stimuli they send a signal to the brain that it interrupted as pain over the skull. If the neck and its nerves do not get irritated to a painful threshold, even when placed under external stress, then no headache will result.
If your posture is poor enough or stress is causing you to tighten your spine muscles tight enough, it might excite and activate the nerves associated with headache like symptoms.
Factors like posture, diet, a lack of sleep, stress and many others directly or indirectly stress your nervous system, that when sensitive enough, might cause a headache. But these factors are never the sole cause as it is all dependent on the sensitivity of your nervous system.
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If we thought that posture is a causative factors for headaches than headache sufferers should find immediate relief when their posture improves; it helps but it never makes them disappear.
Likewise, we might not have pain every time we are stressed-out but notice it is more likely if we have stressed our nervous system by eating and sleeping poorly.
Many of these factors add together to stress our nervous system and our well evolved bodies is kind enough to let us know to change what we are doing in the form of a headache when we hit our nervous system’s threshold.
The more stressors, the greater intensity of the stressors or the more susceptible the nervous system and the more likely you will have symptoms.
Therefore it is important to identify these factors as contributing and not causative.
The key is to manage the core problem causing the condition and make the nervous system less susceptible to stress.
The key is not to tackle headaches by focusing solely on the factors that lead to them but ensuring that the actually machinery in the body is more tolerant and stress resistant.
When the spine and nervous system start to function properly and the nerves of the neck are less irritated and susceptible to stress, it will take more and more contributing factors to cause a headache.