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What is Causing my Headaches?

Headaches.  I’ve had them, you’ve had them, we’ve all had them, but what is actually happening when someone is experiencing a headache?

Sometimes we experience headaches when we get dehydrated or stressed.  Why is that if we forget to eat lunch and end up working all day at our desk that we may have a headache come on in the later parts of the afternoon?  What’s going on????

The reason is simple.

The pains of a headache are a secondary condition letting you know that something is out of balance in the body.  In the examples above, it’s your body screaming to you to drink more water, eat some food, take a break or get some rest.

Let’s be honest.  Pain is a great motivator.  The body knows this and this is why when we injure our body, such as the case with a sprained ankle, it hurts.  When we’ve torn and injured ankle tissue, it’s not healthy to walk on the sprained ankle, and so therefore pain is created in the body to remind you that the injury occurred so that you stay off of your foot to allow the body a chance to heal.

It’s genius!

The problem is, that a sprained ankle is relatively easy to understand since you can remember the incident, but something like a headache can be very difficult to pinpoint the primary issue that is creating the pain you’re experiencing.

From the viewpoint of Upper Cervical Chiropractic and NUCCA care, why do we have many clients experiencing success with their chronic headaches?  It’s because with these clients, we were successful in identifying that their primary issue was an imbalance in the structure of their head and neck.

Let me expand a little bit.  The body is built to be upright.  We are bipeds (2 feet) and therefore are built to stand upright in the world of gravity.  We have a structure (centrally the spine) that is our foundation for maintaining our upright posture.  It is vitally important that we know for a fact that our structure is in a balanced position when we are looking for the reason that many folks are having headache issues.

Of particular importance, we need to look at the position of the head as it sits on the neck.  Consider a golf ball on a golf tee.  It makes sense that if we are to get the golf ball to stay on the tee, the tee had better be relatively straight up and down or else gravity will cause the ball to roll off the tee and fall to the ground.

The head and neck have a similar (albeit more complicated) relationship.  Viewed from the front, the neck needs to maintain a relatively straight position up from the shoulders to keep the head level on top.  There are a few reasons why this occurs but IF the neck does not sit straight and causes the head to lean off to one side, we will often see the head tilt back in compensation to try and balance out the eyes and balance centres in the ears…

Dan Clark Head Tilt

Think about it.  Why would the body purposefully position the head crooked?

The answer is that it wouldn’t.  The body, when there is a crooked position of the the head, is always ATTEMPTING to correct the imbalance but sometimes it can’t.  Sometimes it needs help to overcome the structural imbalances that are present.  Only by looking at the head and neck through x-ray can we accurately see what’s happening with the misalignment, and provide the perfect adjustment to correct it.

Headaches show up to tell us the body is working too hard where it would rather not.

The misalignment of the head on the neck can often feel like a ‘band of pressure’ around the base of the skull.  The tension created in the soft tissues of the head and neck from having to strain themselves (to keep the golf ball on top of the crooked tee) take their toll.  Gravity remains constant, coming straight down on the body.  A crooked neck and head position needs to be CONSTANTLY forced upright to level itself in the face of gravity.  This long constant battle need not be fought.

With this additional band of tension present, internal pressure builds up in the body.  Now changes like weather, stress or elevation trigger these headaches as if they came out of nowhere.  But in actual fact, the ‘trigger’ was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

If this narrative rings true to you, consider a couple of things:
-Have you noticed that there is imbalanced muscle tension in your body?  One sided soreness in the shoulders, neck or the base of the skull?
-Have you ever noticed while looking in the mirror that your head leans more to one side than the other?  Does one ear sit lower than the other?
-Can you tell when you sit, that it is just difficult to get yourself centred in a chair or that you just can’t sit in a balanced way?

Dan Clark

A shift in your structure may be creating those signs of pain that your body is giving you.  Remember, headaches although they have their own name, are not necessarily the primary issue involved.  There is often some underlying issue that is triggering them.

UC Life consults are always available to determine if in fact we can help.  There is no charge for a consultation.  Don’t lose hope and please don’t just accept it.  There is a solution out there.


UC Life Team
250 386-5433