Is your headache a pain in the neck?

CGH-pain2Have you ever had a headache where the pain feels like it’s coming from the base of your skull and then wrapping around to behind your eye? This kind of pain pattern is usually just on one side of the head and it is almost always caused by restriction in your neck.

Unlike many headaches that originate from pain-sensitive tissue inside your head itself, cervicogenic headaches arise form irritations in the neck which cause a radiating pattern of nerve pain into the head. So, the quickest way to get rid of this kind of headache is to leave the head alone and work on the joints and muscles of the neck. Most people that come to me with this kind of headache get immediate relief after a neck adjustment. Often the neck problem has been building for a while though, so they typically need a few more treatments later on to prevent the neck problem from creating another headache.

If you have a pain pattern like I described, You will probably also discover some really tender spots on the back of your neck on the same side as the pain. If so, get an adjustment right away. There’s no need to spend any more time in pain – get better today!



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Headache Causes?

When it comes to headaches, there are hundreds of things that can cause them. Practically anything can cause a headache depending on the circumstances. Here are just a few culprits:

concussion, whiplash, food, sunshine, water, drugs, posture, sports, dehydration, eye strain, sinus congestion, fever, falls, surgery, infection, tumor, sleeping on the couch, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, cold drinks, hot drinks, having children, not having children, being married, not being married, working too much, not working enough…

headache3You get the idea. Name anything internally or externally that could happen to you, and chances are that a headache is one possible outcome.

The good news is that regardless of the initial cause, chiropractic adjustments seem to help most headaches. I don’t know how it works, but I’ve seen it over and over again. And the best part?  Even if the adjustment doesn’t cure your headache, it will help with the muscles and joints in your neck!




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Headache Pills?

headache pillJust about everyone has had a headache at one time or another. Some are mild and short-lived and others are completely debilitating. So when you get a headache, what do you do about it? Most people reach for painkillers such as Advil or Tylenol – and in many cases, that seems to help. These medications don’t actually cure headaches, but they have a widespread effect on the body to interrupt the cycle of inflammation and pain. So in the short term they are certainly helpful. A question worth considering though, is what caused the headache in the first place? Was your headache the result of a shortage of pain medication? Getting to the root cause of a headache and then doing something to change it will be far more effective in the long term than just medicating each occurrence.
As a type 1 diabetic, I get headaches on occasion if my blood sugar levels change too fast. In these cases, I take an Advil and the pain goes away. However, I ALSO take steps to stabilize my blood sugar, since that is what caused the problem in the first place. Similarly, if you can determine what may have caused your headache and do something to correct the source, you will be better off than if you just take more and more medication each time the pain begins.

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Hot or Cold?

Please watch this video so you know when NOT to use heat on your back or neck!

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Just Like Yours…

GiraffeI’ll bet you didn’t know this, but your neck is anatomically the same as this giraffe’s neck. Really! You both have 7 vertebral bones in your neck. Yep, even though his neck is as long as you are tall, there are only 7 bones in there. In fact, with very few exceptions, all mammals have 7 bones in their neck. I guess it’s just a really good design!

Each vertebrae in your neck has joints in the back to connect it to the bones above and below, and all except the upper vertebrae have discs between them to provide cushioning and support. Your spinal cord (which transmits nerve signals to and from every part of your body) runs down the length of your entire spine in a canal formed by holes in each bone. At every segment, some nerves branch off from the spinal cord and supply local and distant body parts. For example, some of the nerves exiting your upper neck branch up into your face and head, while some nerves coming out of the lower part of your neck travel down into your arms and hands.

From a chiropractor’s perspective, the relationship between the bones and the discs and the nerves are so important, because when things aren’t working right, joint capsules and discs can press on sensitive nerves and give you all kinds of problems. Because the nerves carry two-way traffic, changes to the neck that relieve interference on the nerves can affect both pain (nerve signals going to the brain) and function (signals from the brain going to the structure). It makes sense that you would want to remove any interference from the nerves so that your brain and body can communicate properly. This will decrease your pain and improve your health. Chiropractic adjustments are intended to do just that – remove interference in the nerve pathways.

So although I have adjusted thousands of necks, they’ve all been the human variety. My hands aren’t big enough to work on a giraffe!

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How Does Laser Therapy Work?

I always get questions about how laser therapy works, because it is kind of an abstract concept.  We can’t see what is going on inside your body, and most of the time you can’t feel anything during treatment. I thought maybe this demonstration might help to illustrate the concept:


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Laser for Elbow Pain

elbow-painIf you have elbow pain, there is a good chance you have either tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. As I discussed in a previous post, you can get these injuries without participating in either sport.

Both conditions involve tiny injuries to the tendons around your elbow. Sometimes it is just an inflammatory process from overuse, and other times there are some actual tears in the tissue fibers. In either case, the result is pain, especially with certain movements of the elbow.

Traditional chiropractic joint manipulation is not helpful for these conditions, but laser therapy is extremely useful. You see, when the tissue is injured in this manner, it takes the body a LONG time to heal. One reason is that there is poor blood supply in the elbow region – so it takes longer for the body to get the proper quantities of nutrients to the area to begin the healing process. Another factor is that most people are continually using their elbows throughout the day, re-aggravating the problem before it is fully healed.

Laser bypasses the body’s regular healing process in a way, because it delivers raw energy directly to the cells in a form that is immediately usable to them. The result is accelerated healing time, with long lasting results. In my experience with elbows, most patients require less than six treatments for full resolution of their symptoms.
So if you have elbow pain, don’t wait for it to go away by itself… come in and get some relief today! (Click here for more information about our laser therapy)

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Painful Elbow?

golf.tennisGolfer’s elbow, Tennis elbow?… but I don’t play either sport!
Well, you don’t have to. More properly called medial epicondylitis and lateral epicondylitis, these two conditions are often not the result of golf or tennis, but they are common injuries in those sports.

Almost all of the muscles that control your fingers and your wrist are located in your forearm, not in your hand. The muscles which flex (curl) your fingers and wrist all converge to a single attachment point on the side of your elbow closest to your torso (the medial epicondyle), and all of the muscles that extend (straighten) your fingers and wrist attach on the outside of your elbow (the lateral epicondyle).

The best way to see this on your own arm is to bend your elbow at 90 degrees and point your thumb up. Now bend your wrist left and right, and, by touching near the bony parts on either side of your elbow, you can feel the two muscle groups working.

As for the naming of these two conditions, It just so happens that swinging a golf club tends to put excessive strain on the flexing muscles and swinging a tennis racquet tends to strain the extension muscles. Whatever the cause for you, when these attaching tendons get injured and inflamed, the result is painful tenderness in the local area, and increased pain when performing the flexing or extending movements (depending on which injury you have).

You can do stretching exercises to help relieve this pain, get some arm braces to help compress the area, take painkillers, or just rest and hope everything goes back to normal. But if it were me, I would come in for a few treatments of laser therapy right away. You’ll probably be surprised at how quickly it will take away the pain and inflammation.

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Ahhh, the anatomy of the elbow.  What seems at first like a simple joint… isn’t.
It looks similar to a door hinge, but there’s a twist! (pun intended) You see, the radius, on the right of the image actually spins as well as hinges, while the bone on the left, the ulna, just hinges.
Why does it spin, you might ask? Well, the radius and the ulna make up your forearm, and the lower ends of these bones join to your wrist.

Try this: Look at the palm of your left hand. Go on… Look! Now, keeping your arm in the same position, turn your hand over to look at the back of it. Congratulations! You just spun the radius within the elbow joint. If you can find just the right spot on the outside of your elbow with your fingers, you will actually be able to feel radius spinning when you flip your hand from front to back.

Most of the time when I see people with elbow problems, it turns out to be either “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow”. I’ll talk about each of these conditions in upcoming posts. For now, I hope you learned something you didn’t know before!

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Did you know?

Have you heard or seen advertisements for laser therapy and wondered what it was all about? You don’t have to go to a big city clinic, we have laser therapy right here in Stettler, and have been using it for over 8 years. Come in today for a free consultation to see if we can help you with your pain.



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