I know right now there are millions of people just like me. People that think getting a headache everyday is just a part of life, and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything we can do about it. This was me at 25 years old, right before I first saw a chiropractor. My neck didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have any notion of chiropractic helping headaches. I just thought it would be a good idea to make sure I wasn’t wrecking my spine lifting weights.
I was shocked when he said all the things I was dealing with at the time would improve, or even go away. I had numbness and tingling in my arm, headaches, poor sleep, and frequent colds. He also, to my surprise, said my strength would increase. Shortly after, each and every one of those things improved, it was almost unbelievable. How could this happen?
Where Headaches Come From
97% of headaches actually come from the neck. So, obviously we ought to look there first, sadly we usually don’t. Most doctors don’t check the neck, and they’re trained to prescribe a certain medication based on a certain symptom. If that doesn’t work, a different medication, a more powerful medication, and if that doesn’t work, some kind of special procedure.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to take medication or get a surgery unless you absolutely have to. Let me tell you, a headache is one of those things where you certainly DON’T have to! When we have headaches or any symptom, it’s usually caused by chronic stress. Any stress, whether it is physical, chemical, or emotional, causes the same response from the body. That means the sympathetic nervous system response, commonly called fight or flight. The body thinks it’s under attack, and therefore tries to prepare itself for survival.
When this happens, it sets off a series of reactions, starting in the brain, then affecting hormones, down to the adrenal glands setting off a cascade of reactions in the body. Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and cortisol all increase so we can run away and heal from wounds faster. With healing, you get inflammation, if you bruise or ever had a scab, that’s the process in action there, fluids building up to repair a structure.
This stress response is good for you, actually essential for our survival, short term. The thing is, it’s bad for you long term, and has been shown to be our demise. If we talk about headaches, that means there’s inflammation in the brain, neck muscles, or the joints of the vertebrae in your neck. Eating bad foods can cause inflammation of the gut and brain. Not sleeping enough can cause inflammation in the brain. Car accidents, sports, heavy metals from various products, can also contribute to inflammation. Any physical, chemical, or emotional stress has the same response, and each one adds up. It is often the last stressor that “breaks the camel’s back.”
The Real Effects of Long-term Stress
Losing our optimal spinal alignment in the neck causes physical stress to our spinal cord and nervous system. Even misalignments as small as a millimeter or less can affect it. It’s not the amount, but the time it has been there. You can hold a glass of water to the side for 10, 20, 30 seconds without a problem. After a few minutes it starts to get harder. What about after an hour?
The same is true for stress. You can see how if you got in an accident years ago and no one ever checked it, that can lead to issues later in life. Some of you might be thinking, well I never played sports, and I’ve never been in a car accident, so why do I have headaches? Even something as simple as the birth process, can be very traumatic when you think about what happens. In fact, a c-section can put more stress on a baby due how they are pulled out. The use of forceps can be even worse. This doesn’t even count the amount of twisting and pulling that can occur normally.
If that child goes through its entire life with a misaligned spine, is that something you’d like to know for yourself, your children, little brothers or nieces? When it could potentially cost them height, academic and athletic ability, and even overall function? So knowing that, you can see why it is of the utmost importance to get your neck checked as soon as possible. Even before any kind of symptom occurs. This is similar to brushing your teeth and going to the dentist to prevent cavities.
Another not so recognized cause of headaches can come from the eyes. Modern technology is great and has made us do many things efficiently, however, we’re all spending so much time in front of a screen that it’s starting to affect our eyes. When we get up, we check our phones, then work in front of a computer all day, come home and then watch tv. The blue light from the screens becomes a stressor to our eyes, it’ simply too much, causing stress, causing inflammation, causing headaches.
Since many people work at a computer, I can’t tell you to quit your job, but I can help you reduce stress. Let’s get your neck checked! In the meantime, turn on “true tone” on your iPhone or install a blue light blocker app on your phone, tablet, and computers to limit the blue light. You can also get some blue blocker glasses, either one works, but the most important step is getting your neck checked. Countless people have gotten great relief from headaches and many other conditions with chiropractic care. Everyone loves it, and it simply works. Best of all, you get better without drugs, injections or surgery. It’s your own body that does the healing!
Contributed by Morgan Towles, D.C.