In 1983, Dr. Ottar Sjaastad, a Norwegian medical doctor nearly changed the game when it came to managing and helping you with your headaches.
The scientific knowledge that we have know for decades about headaches has never become part of the mainstream approach. Poor management of headaches has left millions of people to suffer unnecessarily. Most health practitioners (medical and non-medical) are STILL not using this valid evidence to help their patients.
Headaches Are Challenging To Care For…
… if you do not know the facts. Namely, headaches are almost never caused by one single factor. It is usually a combination of stressors like inflammation, barometric pressure changes, emotional stress, impaired blood flow to the head, lack of sleep, dehydration and a myriad of other contributing factors.
Regardless of the contributing factors, the one universal underlying cause in every headache is the secret here.
As a previous headache sufferer I am grateful that someone shared the facts with me as it has had a tremendous impact on my health and my life in general. Even if you know these facts, it ultimately comes down to following the steps and executing a plan to correct the problem.
SO WHAT DID THE GOOD DOCTOR DISCOVER?
Dr. Sjasstad discovered something that every headache sufferer, whether tension, cluster, migraine, cervicogenic, primary, secondary, has in common…that the structures of the neck play a pivotal role in the severity and cause of your headache. And to be more specific, how the structures of your neck affect your nervous system.
More specifically, unless your headache was caused by an emergency, you probably have these three things going on in your neck.
- Normal Imaging
- Postural Shifts
- Immobile Spinal Segments
It means that every time you have a headache, if you just made sure the structures of your neck were healthy (more on this shortly) you could fix your headache, or at minimum, make it feel better.
This also means that you’ve probably never looked close enough at your neck for a potential solution.
If you’ve ever been to your medical doctor regarding your headaches, you likely had x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans or other diagnostic imaging that ALL had come back negative. This means that you had Normal Imaging.
Your medical provider did their job…they made sure there was no emergency causing your headaches but this still left you frustrated and most likely medicated.
The reason, as Dr. Sjasstad discovered, that no cause for your headaches could be found is because the headache has little to do with your head (what x-rays, CT’s and MRI’s measure) and everything to do with your neck and the nerves its stresses.
You may have slipped through the cracks, but you know as well as I do, your headaches are very real.
Another result from Sjasstad’s findings was that Postural Shifts can play a significant role in your headaches.
He reported that the further the head moved forward (anterior) over the body the worse the headache became in 67% of his patients. This condition is also known as Anterior Spinal Shift and is a major focus for a NeuroStructural Chiropractor.
One more condition worth noting was that many headaches sufferers demonstrated the presence of Immobile Spinal Segments.
This means that the vertebra that make up your neck don’t fully move in all directions that they should. The result is irritated and inflamed joints as well as dysfunction with the spinal cord itself. [Remember…your spinal cord makes up the major communication system for your entire body and any neurological problem could mean collateral damage to the rest of your body]
TO HELP YOUR HEADACHES – TEST YOUR NECK
If you weren’t aware that a neck problem may be contributing to your headaches or you have never had any tests done on your neck, change that quickly.
Let me help by giving you a gift. This is our FREE Posture Self Assessment Tool. It will help you complete a preliminary check to look for Postural Shifts on your own.
This tool will help you see if you have, as Dr. Sjasstand noted, a “spinal shift”.
CAN YOU FIX POOR POSTURE?
Yes, it is possible to fix poor posture, but it takes more than just exercises or sitting up straight. To actually fix someones poor neck posture you must correct the structure. This is an extremely important point, as posture is what we see on the outside of your body but it’s structure that is at the root of your postural problems.
To properly correct structure you must restore function to the deepest parts of the neck including the vertebra, ligaments, muscles and nerves.
Let me give you an example of a case from our office of someone who underwent NeuroStructural Restoration using our Core Correction Method.
This is Caley and she was kind enough to let us share her story.
Look at the Structural Analysis (the one on the left) that was taken when Caley came into the practice. Her head was 5 cm forward based on our system of analysis. As you can imagine, she had terrible headaches affecting the entire right side of her face that she’d been dealing with for years and now they were affecting her focus, concentration and energy.
Now take a look at the Structural Analysis on the right. Do you see how her posture has drastically improved? In fact, what began as a 5 cm Anterior Spinal Shift is now less than 2cm. Her changing posture is a positive side effect of her deeper structure being corrected and now Caley is also experiencing fewer headaches, more energy and even a boost in her energy.
As you can tell by looking at the picture, Caley was active, but it wasn’t until we completed a full examination and discovered a problem with the deeper structures of her neck (nerve system, ligaments and muscles) that things changed and her headaches got better.
You also might be thinking “I don’t have bad posture and I still have headaches?”
That is very possible. Remember bad posture is just the second of Dr. Sjasstad’s findings. There is also a third: Immobile Spinal Segments.
Immobile Spinal Segments are individual parts of your spine that don’t move properly.
Immobile Spinal Segments are another condition we test for to determine a possible problem with the neck. Our Advanced Palpation Analysis technique is our non-invasive way to examine for Immobile Spinal Segments.
The results from this examination will demonstrate how the individual vertebrae are moving and if there are any shifts in the spine. The more distorted the structure, more shifts there will be in the spine. This leads to fatigued and irritated muscles as well as blood flow changes in the head and face region.
Let’s take a look at Caley’s before and after NeuroStructural Restoration. The X’s represent irritated or shifted vertebrae in the neck labeled Cervical (C) O-7.
Caley improved from having 10/14 shifted neck joints to just 1/14 !
With proper technique, technology and understanding of the unique conditions that exist in headache sufferers, we can develop a clear understanding of the many possible deeper issues at the root your headaches.
More importantly, we know exactly what action to take in order to fix immobile spinal segments and structural shifts. This alone could make ALL the difference to your headaches.
BUT MY NECK DOESN’T HURT?
The saddest part about Immobile Spinal Segments and Anterior Spinal Shift is these conditions don’t always cause pain. This means they can be happening right now and you won’t feel a thing. If you recall, Dr. Sjasstad’s first finding was “Normal Imaging”, which means that your neck could feel fine, but the proper tests could still detect a problem.
If you haven’t quite figured it out by now our approach is different from that of a Traditional Chiropractors. As A NeuroStructural Chiropractor we actually correct the CORE PROBLEM behind it all.
A NeuroStructural Chiropractor analyzes spinal structure for potential problems and using our unique Core Correction Method approach, fixes Immobile Spinal Segments and Anterior Spinal Shift that could be at the core of your headache dilemma.
Take full advantage of the FREE Posture Self-Assessment Tool. This tool, at the very least, will put you on the right track to see if you have a problem with your neck that could be at the root of your headaches or just making your headaches worse.
If you would like to schedule a case review with us or learn more about NeuroStructural Restoration call our office at 416-920-7275.
The one thing I DON’T want you to do is nothing. If you suffer from headaches and you’ve ruled out any emergency cause, there’s a tremendous chance you HAVE something wrong with your neck. Please do something about it.
This blog was adapted with permission from Dr. Jamie Richards – a Life By Design Chiropractor practising in Blenheim, ON.