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Migraines, a Secondary Health Issue

Cause and effect is a simple concept to understand.  If I take a hammer, swing it at a nail and miss, hitting my thumb instead…ouch, it’s going to hurt!

The pain in the thumb is an effect of hitting it with a hammer.  If I didn’t hit my thumb with the hammer, then it wouldn’t hurt.

In this case, hitting the thumb is the primary condition, and the secondary condition (or effect) is the pain that we feel.

A very simple example, but it applies to a lot of different other pains that are going on in the body as well.

Take migraines.  They hurt.  But they, just like the thumb that hurts from getting hit by the hammer, are a secondary condition.  It therefore begs the question “What is the primary condition creating the migraines?”

In this example, the primary condition is a little bit more difficult to pinpoint.

The laundry list of potential primary causes of migraines is very long.  It could be that we are dehydrated, causing tension in the muscles of our head and neck.  Maybe we bumped our heads getting out of the car and we’ve had a migraine ever since.  We may get one with a change in air pressure or altitude.  Then there are chronic migraines that seem to come on for no reason and last for longer periods of time than we would expect?

But why do some people get migraines and others don’t?

For instance, what if every time the weather changed I got a migraine.  Does that mean that the cause of migraines is weather changes?  If that were the case, then wouldn’t everyone else around me also be getting migraines at the same time?  Well, they aren’t, so there must be some deeper underlying cause.

Weather changes are often accompanied by a change in pressure as well.  So maybe it’s the change in pressure that is the cause of migraines.  But if that were the case, everyone flying in an airplane or being subject to changes in elevation would also always get a migraine, and that’s just simply not the case.

There is still yet something deeper going on that separates individuals and makes one persons body more susceptible to migraines than others that are experiencing the same changes in pressure or weather.

What is the missing link here?

One of the most interesting aspects about Upper Cervical work is the way fluids move up and down the neck.  Specifically, I’m referring to blood flow and Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) flow.  Both blood flow to and from the brain, as well as CSF flowing around the spinal cord and lubricating the brain, are absolutely vital in maintaining our brains in a state of health.  These fluids are also subject to changes in pressure just like all other tissues in the body, and if we block the flow of these fluids to and from the head, we create our own pressurized system around our brains.


If there is a blockage in the flow of this system, it will increase pressure around the brain.  Now, the brain being under extra pressure, is more sensitive to the changes in the environment – such as pressure changes, altitude, ingestion of food triggers etc – and a migraine is triggered.  Restoring the flow allows us to not be as sensitive to migraine triggers.

Where does NUCCA fit into all of this?

What we know at UC Life is that the rotation of the atlas (C1) vertebra often creates the tension on the structures that regulate the flow of these fluids to and from the head.  When the body is already pressurized above the normal level, then any additional pressure added, such as a weather change or elevation change, can cause the body to turn on the alarm bells and the result may be a migraine headache.

By restoring proper flow to these fluids, there is no longer any need for alarm bells.

If the blockage in flow is caused by a structural misalignment in the upper cervical spine, as is often the case, then we can detect and correct the underlying cause and let the symptoms, in this case the migraine headaches, take care of themselves.

It’s our hope at UC Life to get the opportunity to help these folks deal with their health problems, not by masking the pain and pretending that it’s “just a part of life”, but rather presenting them with a solution to deal with the cause.

There IS a solution, there is HOPE.