Headaches and migraines can be more than just a minor annoyance. They can affect every aspect of our lives, and you’re probably wonder what the cause of daily headaches is. If you suffer from migraines and chronic headaches, how often has it interrupted your plans or your work? Conventional treatments address migraines and headaches as the problem. When the reality is that headaches and migraines are a symptom of a larger problem. The human body is very adept at letting us know there is a problem. Sometimes the problem or indication is small at first. For example, research has shown that a loss of the sense of smell can indicate Alzheimer’s as early as 10 years in advance. Chronic headache and migraines are a symptom of an underlying problem, and the pain is a warning signal.
If you suffer from headaches, there is a very high probability that your headaches or migraines are coming from chronic irritation of the nerves, muscles or blood
vessels between the head and neck from a complex region known as the Craniocervical Junction.
The International Chiropractic Associated (ICA) created a 3 year post-doctorate specialty diplomate program focusing on Chiropractic Craniocervical Junction Procedures (DCCJP). This diplomate program was created to train upper cervical focused chiropractic physicians to more effectively diagnose, image and non-surgically treat this area. As a CCJ diplomate, and now a clinical instructor for this diplomate program, I have observed that this area is often overlooked by conventional medical treatments or mishandled by some chiropractic physicians and physical therapists who manipulate this area without image guidance. The fact that this area is more susceptible to injury than any other part of the spine explains why sports injuries and whiplash from car crashes can lie at the root of many migraines and headaches months or even years after the injury.
The Lift Clinic has an over 85% success rate in identifying the causes of daily headaches and migraines and treating them through our proprietary method of treatment. The reason for this unusually high clinical outcomes is due to our selection bias technology. I tell me procedure candidates, “If you don’t have the problem we fix, we simply don’t accept you as a patient.”
The key to resolving a symptom, such as migraines, is in knowing precisely what is at the root of the problem in the first place. For the problem and solution, we must look at the region known as the craniocervical junction, or the CCJ and how the upper cervical spine and headaches are related. This important region is held in place by ligaments that can be torn, stretched or otherwise damaged as a result of trauma. When normal, neutral alignment of these structures are lost, symptoms can start to set in, immediately, or insidiously—becoming a main cause of daily headaches.
When symptoms set in, it is important to rely on someone who specializes in this area and who uses the appropriate equipment and diagnostic techniques to
understand how to fix this area and fix the causes of headaches and migraines. The Lift Clinic specializes in this region. Through our non-surgical, noninvasive technique, we eliminate the causes of daily headaches, and the result is: the pain goes away—often times, while the patient is still in our office… what’s better, it tends to stay gone!
Cranial Cervical Junction
The facts are staggering. Research shows that migraines and headaches affect the lives of 50 million Americans—in fact, according to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 suffer from a common tension type headache, and migraine headaches are the second most common form of primary headache. In my practice, headaches make up more than ½ of my patient population, and women are affected by migraines or headaches 3 to 1 as compared to men. It’s no wonder so many people are looking to determine the cause of daily headaches with this many people being affected by them!
I have been asked how many migraines per year is considered “normal”, and the answer to that question is “one”. The fact is, head pain is present only when something isn’t right with the head, neck, jaw or face.
Pain, or it’s technical name, “nociception”, is the body’s normal warning indicator that something abnormal or harmful is happening in its’ structures and tissues. In the case of migraines or headaches, those tissue are the head, neck, face or jaw. Too often, headaches or migraines are treated by medications that block the pain—or as is the case more often, “attempt to block the pain” but fail to do so. In these situations, where drugs are used to mask, mimic or alter brain function, quality of life is often adversely affected by the drugs themselves. It is common for drugs to stop working, or harmful side-affects are developed, and new drugs or other treatments are implemented to deal with the side-affects. I’ve seen lives ruined by this clinical course of action. Why are people willing to go down this path, if
drugs can be so risky and disruptive? The answer is simple: Headaches suck!!
They are simply just horrible—and in severe cases, almost anything (even a
quiet dark room with no light or sound, out of sight and sound of friends,
family or work colleagues) is preferable to the pain of an intense headache. As
a clinician, it is important to understand that there are numerous “types” of
headaches, and many systems involved in the possible generation of the pain
signals which manifest themselves as head, neck or face pain, but for the sake
of this post, I want to talk about headaches and migraines that can be remedied
by our out-patient procedure without drugs or surgery.
In order to begin to understand complexity of the issue and the cause of headaches and migraines, it’s important to know that nerves from the head (cranial nerves) and nerves from the neck (the top six spinal nerves) blend together in a phenomenon known as “convergence”. That means that many headaches, in all their varieties come from stressed, inflamed or damaged upper cervical spinal structures that are not commonly “well-visualized” (seen) in MRI brain and cervical spine studies. These structures include parts of your head and neck anatomy that you likely have not heard of, and some that you have. These are the main pain generators in the head and neck.
- Static Stabilizer Ligaments of the CCJ 2. Special MRI view.
- Dura mater of the posterior cranial fossa
- Inferior surface of the tentorium cerebelli
- Anterior and posterior upper cervical and cervical-occiput muscles
- OCCIPUT-C1, C1-C2, and C2-C3 joints
- C2-C3 intervertebral disc
- Skin of the occiput
- Vertebral arteries
- Carotid arteries
- Alar ligaments
- Tectorial, Atlanto-Axial Membranes
- Transverse ligaments
- Trapezius muscle
- Sternocleidomastoid muscle
When one or several of these structures are torn, stretched, irritated, inflamed, or
otherwise bothered by trauma or malalignment, a pain signal is generated and
sent to the “pain central” region known as the trigeminocervical nucleus.
Because these complex nerve pathways from the upper neck, and cranium “splice” in on one another, and land in the same place in the upper spinal cord, (the
trigeminocervical nucleus) the brain has some difficulty sorting out exactly where
the pain is coming from! However, that doesn’t keep it from sounding an alarm
in the form of a pain signal. What this means to the sufferer of headaches or
migraines is that an unhappy structure in the neck can cause a “headache-like”
pain above or behind the eye, or in the forehead.
a torn ligament in the neck, (not seen on an MRI) can cause pain in the top of
the head, scalp, temples, teeth or jaw joint.
that an imbalanced bite caused by a slightly high tooth after routine dental
work can feel like a migraine or TMJ pain.
a crimped or stretched vertebral or carotid artery can cause pain which mimic
sinus pain. You get my point—I could go on and on!
In my practice, it is common to find that headaches and migraines are coming from a twisted atlas-axis-skull base relationship which causes not just one of the above
conditions, but several!
Counter rotated atlas-axis-skull base as seen from the top.
For instance, when the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae are counter rotated under
the skull base (CO), this can 1.) directly cause irritation to the vertebral
arties, 2.) stretch and irritate the cervical occiput muscles, 3.) pull on
frayed or damaged alar ligaments, 4.) irritate upper cervical joint capsules,
and 5.) twist the dura matter and cord through the dentate ligaments, and 6.)
strain the trapezius and other neck muscles.
This simple (and fixable) condition can cause an “over-loading” of the
circuits in sensory “pain central” in the upper spinal cord. This overloading
equals a headache or migraine. But when the atlas axis and skull base segments are realigned, the pain can resolve
Migraines may lead a patient to my clinic, but I usually find a host of other conditions and symptoms not usually put together by the patient, such as:
Light-headedness, memory problems, loss of balance, buzzing or ringing in ears, balance problems, foggy thinking, anxiety and/or depression, vertigo or
dizziness, difficulty sleeping, sleep apnea, clenching or grinding teeth and
fatigue—just to name a few! The human body is a closed system and everything is interconnected. The idea that one system or problem does not affect others is antiquated. The trick to solving all of the issues, is finding the root elements of the problem.
The good news is: this is usually fixable if you are in the right place—that place is
The Lift Clinic. So if you have sore neck muscles, especially at the base of
your skull, around the top of your neck or under your ear, this is a big clue and may signal that your headaches or migraines are directly related to your upper
cervical spine being out of alignment. If so, a simple and focused examination in
my office could be helpful for you.
Visit www.theliftclinic.com and schedule a free consultation if you are or someone you know are interested in resolving your migraine or headache without drugs or surgery.
Call us today to learn more about migraine and headache treatment in Salt Lake City from The Lift Clinic.