Headaches have many causes which may stem from the neck, shoulder, TMJ, mid back, ear, sinuses, cervical (neck) ligament laxity, vestibular (inner ear) disturbances, dizziness, muscle tension, lack of sleep, anxiety, postural pain syndrome, high blood pressure, head trauma, seizures, strokes, and poor nutrition…to name a few thousand. From the preceding list it’s very obvious why Tylenol and Ibuprofen have a thriving market! What is the simplest cure to decreased headache pain and frequency? Once traditional routes to a cure are exhausted, consider the role of the following:
Poor nutrition and/or allergic responses
Nutritional deficits and maladies are the root of all illness. Nutritional imbalance fires up the systemic inflammatory response, which often spirals to chronic illness when uncorrected. Chronic inflammation, or as I like to think of it an over worked immune system, sets the stage for almost every disease process. SO to be short and sweet, nutritional deficiency or imbalance could be the fix to MANY of the previously stated culprits leading to headaches and migraines. How do you fix nutrition? Start in the produce aisle. For more details see also my nutrition blogs below.
Examine your household and body care products as well. Many people have an allergic response to their most favorite scents and products. Examine fabric softener, detergent, hairspray, perfume, body wash, shampoo, soap, toothpaste…OH MY! Go for products that are “free and clear” or safe to use on infants and children as these contain fewer preservatives and allergens. Don’t forget that you absorb everything that touches your skin.
If the ligaments of the upper neck are over stretched or loose for any reason, this could cause chronic migraines or headaches. Diseases such as lupus, RA, fibromyalgia, any connective tissue disorder, MS, and multiple other neurological processes as well as trauma can cause this laxity or looseness to occur. A surgical procedure may be an option but many times the only cure is gentle cervical strengthening.
Dizziness has many causes as well which may or may not be related to the vestibular system (inner ear), and is often related to neck pain or dysfunction. There are specific vestibular exercises a skilled physical therapist can address to reduce headaches. See also nutrition as nutrition serves the viability of the vestibular system.
History of head trauma
Headaches are also related to traumatic events such as a car wrecks, falls, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, scarring from burns, or concussions (this is not an exhausted list). Many times addressing neck, shoulder, mid-back, and TMJ issues act to resolve tension-type headaches. Those headaches more neural in nature such as migraines may be better addressed with diet or specialized surgical procedures (orthopedic or neurological).
Tension in the jaw is created often by stress, anxiety, and worry. Meditation, breath practice, and emotional release help to alleviate anxiety and worry that create stress and tension. Also simply cueing yourself to “relax my jaw” throughout the day and right before drifting to sleep may help. Mouth guards are also useful but not the cure. The aforementioned spiritual practices have been shown to be very effective in releasing the jaw to reduce headaches. There are situations that warrant specialized dental or oral surgery to correct TMJ issues, which may also alleviate or eliminate headache pain and frequency.
Neck and shoulder
Neck and shoulder pain create muscle tension. Many of the neck and shoulder muscles attach directly to the skull so it should be no surprise that tension here can create headache pain. Limited shoulder mobility and pain often creates neck disturbances as well see my neck and shoulder blogs below for more information.
Role of breath practice, postural change, sleep, and meditation
Breath practice works to replenish the brain and body with life sustaining, and repairing oxygen. Oxygen’s life force is healing and promotes optimal muscular and neurological firing, which will ease the pain associated with headaches.
When we sit or work in a prolonged posture or position blood is shunted in a specific direction often crippling adequate flow to the head and neck. Practicing postural change for even a few seconds every 15 minutes will produce a more oxygen rich environment within the head and body. Postural pain and prolonged positions have also recently been associated with depression.
Meditation is directly correlated with improved sleep patterns. It aides in more restful sleep allowing our bodies to enter healing, repair, and regeneration mode (see also my meditation and sleep blogs below). Without sleep our bodies are never allotted the time to heal. Without sleep chronic pain, disease, and illness is almost inevitable.
Meditation Blogs: https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/05/05/the-secret/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/03/10/what-is-destressifying/
Sleep Blog: https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/01/stop-fighting-your-sleep/
Neck and Shoulder Blog: https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/06/04/neck-and-shoulder-pain/
Postural Pain Blog: https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/05/12/postural-pain/
Nutrition Blogs: https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/21/a-dose-of-medical-medium/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/18/offensive-health/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/06/on-the-radio-the-earth-diet/
I will be discussing the roles of meditation relating to spirituality and how to start a meditation program in an upcoming mentoring program called Spirit and spirits. Please visit https://alternativeptfortworth.com/spirits-and-spirit/ for more information!