A Frequently Under-Diagnosed Physical Cause: Migraine and Post Traumatic Neck Pain

You know how there are people who suffer from 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 migraine-2turned 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.

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.

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