Oh, no! You can feel it coming on again. Mild as it may be at first, history tells you it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Just the thought of what’s coming tenses your shoulders and sets your jaw. Another altered day is about to begin. What won’t you get done today? How bad will the pain get? Will you be able to do anything to change its ugly course? ¹
Chronic head pain is known to affect approximately 20% of adults in the United States. If you’re one of these unfortunate people, you’ve likely been through the medical mill of numerous doctor visits, tests, and prescribed medications—and still you suffer from headaches. Out of options, you’ve resigned yourself to the “fact” that you’ll just have to learn to live with your head pain.
THE CAUSE AND THE SOLUTION
If I’m describing your present situation, I have some life-changing news for you. Your head pain (and, yes, even your migraines) can actually become a thing of the past, and no medication will be required! The secret to recovery lies within your upper neck. The reason this area can be such a headache “hot spot” is because the brain is intimately wired to the nerves which exit the spine from the upper portion of the neck and travel up into the head, brain, and face. Mechanical dysfunction here can easily set off a headache.
Migraines—which are commonly understood to be triggered by food or environmental sensitivities, hormonal changes, and/or emotional stress—often have a significant upper neck component, or trigger, which has been overlooked. When this neck-based trigger is eliminated, the other traditionally recognized triggers can’t “pile up high enough” to launch a migraine.
FINDING AN APPROPRIATELY SKILLED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER
For the past three decades, I’ve been treating patients with chronic head pain using hands-on (manual) therapy techniques that focus on addressing the muscles, joints, and disc located between the third neck bone (cervical vertebrae) and the base of the head. When normal joint movement and disc health are restored—along with proper muscle tone, texture, and flexibility—a MAJOR headache trigger is eliminated. The beauty of this approach is that it works well with both neck-based (triggered) headaches AND migraines—even menstrual and ocular (visual, non-pain producing) migraines!
In order to be effective, these treatment techniques must be administered to you by a properly-skilled, healthcare practitioner. So, how do you find one? Simply interview your potential caregiver (physical therapist, chiropractor, or osteopath), and ask them if they are specially trained to treat the joints, disc and muscles of the upper neck.*
YOUR ROLE IN HEALING
There’s an important part for you to play in recovering from head pain. The first step is to make sure you have a well-aligned head and neck posture, both when awake and while asleep. If your head is held in a forward-glided, backward-tipped position relative to your shoulders, you’re setting the stage for headache trouble by adding compressive forces to this highly sensitive area.
Here are some examples of healthy vs. risky head-neck postures.
The second step you can take is to avoid putting your head and neck at risk during your daily activities. Below are examples of three common, potentially harmful situations and their healthy “fixes.”
When combined with treatment from a highly-skilled, healthcare professional, careful attention to the posturing and positioning of your head and neck throughout your day and night will go a long way towards your recovery from chronic pain.
¹ Excerpted from Lisa Morrone’s Overcoming Headaches and Migraines, Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
* For more guidance, visit www.LisaMorrone.com and click on the Free Resources tab and select
“How to Find a Good P.T.”