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Published 1/15/2018 – Original Article
In my article last week I described the suboccipital area, a vitally important part of the neck. This week we will take a deeper look at this area and why when it’s not working properly it’s the most common culprit in causing headaches.
Headaches will affect everyone at some point. About 18% of adults have severe headaches and 90% of people will experience a headache at some time in life. The headache we are looking at is the classic tension headache.
The tension headache typically starts at the base of the neck and moves to the forehead. This headache usually happens after a bout of stress, either emotional or physical.
As you recall, a ligament is designed to keep things in place. It’s like a wrap holding bones together. If you stretch a ligament too much the joint will become loose. This looseness requires the muscles to work harder. When these muscles work harder it can create inflammation in the area, and this makes nerve endings fire more easily. This information to the brain is usually interpreted by the brain as pain – the headache.
The series of small joints in the suboccipital area all need to do their part. If one or two get subluxated then the others will need to work harder than they are designed to. This will, over time, cause ligaments to loosen and the headache cycle begins.
There are many ways ligaments can loosen:
- prolonged flexion of the neck
- looking at your device too long
- sleeping with a bad pillow
- doing excessive overhead work
Ok, now the good news: this problem is preventable! Simply, don’t rest on your ligaments. Don’t move your head to its end range of motion and stay there. Don’t sleep on the couch with your neck bent as far as it will go. Don’t spend hours staring at your device (or book) without changing your position.
So what do you do if you have subluxation in the upper neck? First you need to have it evaluated by your doctor of chiropractic. It’s important to understand which joints are dysfunctional. Second, follow the comprehensive plan designed by your chiropractor to get proper movement restored to the neck. Once this happens the headaches will be greatly reduced or eliminated.
This month we celebrate cervical Spine Awareness Month with special events and health screenings. Visit our Cervical Spine Month Page for everything.
- Cranial Nerve Screening
- Cervical Spine Joint Movement
- Overall Range of Motion
- Blood Pressure
- Health History
Call or text 314-292-9065 or schedule online to schedule this important health screening.
Published 1/8/2018 – Original Article
Have you ever just felt off?
Something is not right, but you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you feel tired, or mentally foggy. You know you’re not on your game but your doctors says you are in perfect health.
Let me introduce to you a critically important part of your body; it’s not part of most regular physicals, yet it’s an important component to healthy living. It’s a part of the neck just below your skull called the suboccipital area.
Aside from the obvious functions, like attaching your skull to your spine and allowing your head to move, your upper neck sends vital neurological information to the brain to;
- Regulate blood pressure and blood flow
- Work as a gyroscope for your nervous system
- Maintain thinking pathways and alertness
- Coordinate head movement and eye movement
- And much more.
If the upper cervical spine is not working properly you simply aren’t going to be at your best.
The skull sits on the highest vertebra, a ring-like bone called the atlas, named after the Greek god who holds up the globe. This bone has 5 attachment sites for other bones, creating joints that send mission-critical information to the cerebellum (a part of the brain behind the ear that controls movement, among other things.) This collection of joints and muscles is called the suboccipital area.
The second bone is called the axis. This ring-like bone acts as a pivot point for the head to rotate. Ligaments are strategically placed to prevent too much movement. These ligaments are stretched when we look down too long, like when staring at a phone or iPad for an extended period. These ligaments are essential keep your head on straight and are capable of holding a tremendous amount of weight.
This entire area is hardwired into the eyes, synchronizing the movement of your skull with your eyes. It’s quite an amazing orchestration of design and functionality. All this amazingness comes at a cost. When we abuse this area we can end up with regular headaches, foggy thinking, TMJ problems and dizziness.
This month in my office we are celebrating Cervical Spine Awareness month. Each week you will find an article from me as well as supporting podcasts. To top it off I’ll be hosting a seminar in my office on the cervical spine. The topic is specifically on dizziness but the entire neck will to reviewed and it will be informative for anyone to attend.
If you have any questions comment on this Facebook post.