Dr. Ryan Reilly
7155 80th Street So Ste 110
Cottage Grove, MN 55016-3050

By contactus
February 23, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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Patients with headaches commonly complain of neck pain or stiffness.   This relationship is the rule, not the exception and therefore, treatment of headaches must include treatment of the neck to achieve optimum results.  The term "cervicogenic headaches" has been accepted for many years because of the intimate connection between the head and neck.  There are many anatomical reasons why neck problems result in headaches.  Some of these include:

  • The first 3 nerves exiting the spine in the upper neck go directly back into the head.  They go through the muscles that attach the head and neck, therefore any excess pressure on these nerves by the muscles or spinal joints will result in irritation and subsequent neck & headache pain.
  • The origin of the 5th cranial (which controls the side of the head and face) originates in the upper cervical region near the origin of the 2nd cervical spinal nerve (which controls the back and top of the head). Therefore, problems in the upper neck will often result in pain radiating up from the back of the head over the top of the head and around the sides of the head into the eyes and face.
  • The 11th cranial nerve (which controls the the muscles in the neck and shoulders) arises from the top 5-7 spinal nerves in the neck.  Injury, dysfunction or "pinching" throughout the neck often will result in spasm and pain in these muscles, which can trigger headaches.

When patients seek treatment for their headaches, a thorough examination of the head, neck, upper back and cranial nerves should be performed for the above reasons.  It is very common to find neck movement and alignment problems present in patients complaining of headaches.  Tender points located between the shoulder blades, along the upper shoulders, on the sides of the neck and most commonly and the base of the skull are found.  Patients commonly have pain and trouble looking up/down and turning their head to look over their shoulder.  Pain often radiates over the top of the head and/or around the sides of the head.  Chiropractic treatment performed on the problem joints often brings quick and satisfying relief to headaches sufferer.