You know how there are people who suffer with headaches, sometimes severe headaches? They frequently have had headaches for years that have become worse and worse with time. The headaches can become so debilitating the pain takes away from some of the best parts of life. People can learn to suffer with the headaches but they never really learn to live with them. Truth be told, no one learns to live with migraine headache pain we just learn to suffer. We can learn to suffer with headaches through movies, graduations, soccer games, dinner out, family time and school plays. The headaches can become so severe we have to withdraw into a dark quiet place and take a pill or two or three.
These headache sufferers have often been diagnosed with “Migraine Headache” and been told they will have them the rest of their lives or live on prescription medications with all the side effects. They frequently live in fear of when the next headache will show up and how bad it may get and how long until the next one after that. Many have tried remedies from pharmaceutical prescriptions, botox injections to the face, forehead, neck, and skull, exercises, diet changes to eliminate triggers, psychological therapy, chiropractic, massage and physical therapy. Sometimes with some results, sometimes without much.
For more than 33 years now, I have cared for patients with Migraine Headaches. I want to share some insights I have after helping thousands of people get rid of them. Most of my patients over the years have had multiple failed procedures and have spent lots of time and money trying to find a solution to their headaches. They are conscientious people with pain being treated by conscientious providers who want to help but can’t. It’s not really anyone’s fault. Sometimes bad conditions seem to develop from nowhere. Life ruining health situations that seem to just show up out of thin air. It can make you feel helpless.
The negative impact that severe or migraine headaches have on our lives can be monumental. In caring for patients with these types of severe headaches, I have heard stories of lives that are turned upside down by this condition. Family members suffer along with victims of the condition. Friendships and interpersonal relationships can be stressed and burdensome when a friend or loved one suffers. It is hard to be there for a spouse or children, mom or dad or a friend when it feels like your head is being crushed in a vise. At times, it feels as though your life can is ruled by these headaches.
There can be many causes for headaches.
Headaches can be caused by many different conditions. Most of the professions do a pretty good job of diagnosing the sinister causes of headaches. The percentage of headaches that are caused by truly sinister problems is tiny. There is nothing like a CT Scan or MRI to tell if your headaches are coming from a life threatening cause. Blood testing, EKG and ECG are great for ruling out some other really bad causes for severe headaches. This type of headache is a medical headache and is due to a space occupying lesion or metabolic stress associated with the metabolic degeneration of disease. These are medical conditions that must be screened for when persistent worsening headaches occur.
Once these tests come back normal (which is a very good thing), then what? A lifetime of pain killers? Injections? Invasive procedures? In my experience once sinister causes have been ruled out, it is time to take a different look at the condition known as Migraine Headache.
A Frequently Under Diagnosed Physical Cause:
Migraine and Post Traumatic Neck Pain
The type of severe headaches and migraine headaches I am talking about have their cause rooted in the connection between the structures of your upper neck and your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The upper neck is referred to as the upper cervical spine. It is the area just below your skull and above the rest of your neck. It consists of the base of the skull known as the Occiput/Occ and the top two bones known as the “Atlas”/C1 and the “Axis”/C2. These structures are buried and supported by layers of muscles, ligaments and tendons. The joint structures themselves make this area both freely mobile and very strong at the same time. A marvel of structural engineering and design second to none! It was designed for 125 years of trouble free, function and service.
One Thing Christopher Reeve’s Tragic Injury Shows Us
“People do not realize, if you injure your neck, you injure every organ in your entire body. An adult is as fragile as a blade of grass, millimeters from death.”
Attributed to Christopher Reeve
Mr. Reeves had a tragic horseback riding accident in which his 3rd cervical vertebra was fractured. He had a catastrophic injury of the upper cervical spine. This injury created dramatic almost total interference to his spinal cord in the upper cervical spine. The fractured bone squeezed the spinal cord to the point nerve impulses that give our body life were cut off. His organs, tissues and structures in the rest of his body were perfectly normal below the fracture yet, they did not function normally after that day. The nerve impulses that supplied life giving functions that flow easily in you and I, from our brain through the spinal cord, out the spinal nerves creating the vital functions of life were cut off at his 3rd cervical vertebra. The remaining short years of his like are an inspiration to all and showed us what courage looks like. He passed away from the effects of his injury which caused a loss of normal neurological function. Without this vital function of coordinating all bodily functions, a long life is not possible even with the best of care.
God bless them all.
Imagine an Injury, Not As Severe but, to the Same Area of Your Spine
How does it happen? Most commonly slips, falls and accidents. Car accident in particular can cause very forceful highly unnatural movements to occur especially when our skull is struck a blow. Falls that involve striking the head or worse yet landing on top of your head are particularly bad. Being able to get up and walk away is only testament to the design and strength of the upper cervical spine not a statement of whether or not you sustained an injury.
Imagine an injury that is not severe enough to fracture your spine like Christopher Reeve’s spine fractured but is enough to wrench, jam, and strain the Occ/C1/C2 joint complex. Not a fracture just a jammed, stuck, swollen, immobile, sore and aching injury. Though there is no fracture your body and nervous system know there is injury and an automatic natural splinting process occurs that stiffens the areas involved. Not fractured but injured, out of place, imbalanced, and dysfunctional: structurally and neurologically. Not as severe as Christopher Reeve’s injury but undeniably hurt deeply and unfortunately for most, undiagnosed. This type of injury in the past and the residual nerve pressure and neurological interference it creates even years later, is what we find at the root of stubborn Migraine and severe headache syndromes.
An Injury Frequently Undiagnosed, Unrecognized and Worsening
Nature has created an elaborate and complex system of innervation to the upper cervical spine that in some ways is more sensitive than any other part of the body. Why?? Your head is critical to your very survival. Our brain gets direct feedback from the sense organs of our skull. Now and in ancient times as well this sensory input is critical to our survival. Our vision, hearing, sense of smell, sense of balance and even the sensitivity to the wind direction through the hairs on our face, feedback directly into the brain on a constant basis 24/7 whether you’re aware of it or not. Most of this feedback is through the brain stem, the server for the mega computer which is your brain.
Tough by design because it is vital and critical to our survival
The feedback survival systems depend on our skull being oriented to the natural horizon and level along those lines. If the structures are not naturally settled into normal balance, level with the horizon, smooth moving, in a proper gravitational center, then our brain begins to send off alarm bells and sirens to the rest of your nervous system. Why? The very system that is critical to your survival is being compromised. Our survival is at stake. At this point several critical processes begin to occur:
Nature and your own nervous system begin to shift your entire frame to compensate for the imbalance it cannot correct in the upper cervical spine. This can place monumental stress on structures that suddenly have to function in ways they were not designed to. Many of these stressed structures can be remote from the original problems in the upper cervical spine.
Lower neck pain, mid back pain, shoulder pain and stiffness, lower back pain, disc problems, hip, knee, ankle, foot and heel pain are common signs of this process.
With the constant abnormal input from this bio-mechanical lesion in the upper cervical spine, an irritation feedback loop is created that begins to use too much space on your brains server. As a result, on an initially subtle level the neurological mechanisms that maintain your body’s normal healthy internal environment begin to change. In time this can change a normal functioning body into one that does not function well at all. This is when chronic health problems find their start in a system that is not functioning well in the first place.
The longer the process goes on the more chronic and severe it becomes. Headaches become frequent headaches which become more severe and chronic headaches which become very severe then migraine headaches. All over time, from the same cause, just getting worse.
Throughout all of our lives, from the very beginning we are subjected to multiple traumas and injury. Christopher Reeves injury was tragically severe. Some are worse than others but through most of them our upper cervical spine does just fine. Even though our skull weighs in at 12-15 pounds and it is balanced on the two upper cervical bones that weigh a few ounces each, the articular design of the joints make the area extremely stable. It takes a good deal of force to create enough energy to abnormally change that relationship. It is not easy to do, but many of us manage to do just that…….injure it. This is especially true when the force involves a blow to the head.
When the wrong things happen to us just right……..
When all the wrong things happen to us by way of slips, falls, accidents or injury our upper cervical spine can be damaged by being forced to move abnormally. When this occurs it is referred to as an upper cervical subluxation or atlas subluxation named after the top bone in the neck. The atlas subluxation is what I find at the root of the majority of thousands of migraine and severe headache syndrome patients I have treated over the last 33 years.
The majority of severe migraine headache suffers have these 2 things in common:
They have had trauma either in the recent or distant past that has changed the normal relationship of the structures of their upper cervical spine (the upper neck). For some patients this trauma may have been early indeed. During the birth process if labor was difficult or forceps were used then the upper cervical spine may have been compromised.
Have tried many forms of care to find relief and have had marginal to no result. This does not mean they are incurable.
Thankfully the Upper Cervical Spine Subluxation Leaves Physiologic
Migraine Fingerprints that we can Read and Identify
Para-Spinal Digital Infrared Imaging (PDII)
Given what you know now, since your brain, spinal cord and nerves control the functioning of your entire body and physiology, it would seem that with any severe chronic condition, you would want to monitor the function of this critically important system your nervous system. I have found in treating thousands of people with severe headache or migraines it is critical to diagnose and treat by monitoring the function of the nervous system as the criteria. Para-spinal Digital Infrared Imaging (PDII) is the scientific communities’ choice for monitoring nervous system function and establishing these criteria.
What does PDII tell us?
Is a problem present in the first place that is affecting the function of your nervous system?
Is the treatment producing a normalizing effect on the nervous system as far as normalizing function?
Objective measurement of the relationship of structures in the spine and the function of the nervous system. Objective measurement and monitoring are keys to obtaining lasting results.
Once the condition has been found and corrected, it should be left alone and active treatment ends. Having a measurable goal is important.
The keys to success? Treat. Monitor.
The Goal? Let’s try eliminating the condition on a permanent basis.
You see, most chiropractors manipulate the spine with the goal of increasing range of motion, reducing muscle spasm and providing relief. They do a great job.
The focus of my practice as it applies to severe headaches and migraine is to adjust and restore your upper cervical spine to normal structural alignment and normal physiological movement. I then reinforce that adjustment by making sure the procedure also brings about normalized neurological function. Normalization of nerve function is the key ingredient for any truly lasting results.
The goal of my treatment protocol is eliminating the condition on a permanent basis.
Results can be spectacular.
For patients who have atlas subluxation at the root of their severe migraine headache syndrome, the results can be spectacular. Over the years I have seen patients’ whole lives turn around. I have seen families relieved and careers take off when the pain leaves and lifelong dreams become possible. The recovery rate for the procedure is excellent and the safety rate of the adjustment is one of the best.
In the last 30 years, the general scientific community has made great strides in understanding and creating instrumentation that allows me to document directly the day to day functioning of your nervous system. With the advent of Para-spinal Digital Infrared Imaging, there is no longer any guess work about whether or not the nervous system is functioning normally. We can produce a computerized image of it. Once an abnormal pathologic pattern can be obtained then we have a day to day treatment standard that allows us to very accurately determine if treatment is getting to the cause of your headache and correcting it. Frankly, without objective gauges of physiologic functioning it is really hard to render the critical decisions you need to get lasting results with chronic difficult conditions like severe migraine headache syndrome.
Why all this discussion of nerve function and monitoring?
I don’t think a detailed discussion of the benefits of a normal functioning nervous system is needed. There are over 6000 Peer Reviewed Journal Studies over a period of 35 years that report on the accuracy of Para-Spinal Digital Infrared Imaging (PDII) in determining whether or not a nervous system in a given person is working normally. Normal thermo-graphic imaging is well established. Abnormal can now be readily seen and identified. That information is critical and irreplaceable in treating difficult cases. Any doctor wants to know, on a visit to visit basis, how you are responding to treatment.
This type of clinical monitoring is not done by any other chiropractic, medical, physical therapy or naturopathic office in Alaska. Studies show that new technology can take decades getting into common use in the professions which is of little comfort to those who suffer now. At Pairmore and Young Synergy Chiropractic I am sensitive to the scarcity in availability of the level of care we offer.
There are thousands of people on a day to day basis in Anchorage and Alaska that suffer with headaches and migraine headaches. As a public service and out of respect for the difficulty that these health issues cause in the lives of sufferers and families, I make the following offer to anyone suffering with this problem.
I offer a complementary pre-consultation to get acquainted and get your questions answered. It has always amazed me what many of my patients have endured prior to consulting my office. If you hurt alot and have been through alot then I’d like to give you an opportunity to just talk about it without any obligation. Sometimes you just need to get some information in order to make a decision that’s good for you. Also you are welcome to call for a phone consult as well.
Can Pairmore & Young Synergy Chiropractic help you? Find out soon, give me a call and we’ll talk about it. I look forward to hearing from you.