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Headaches - Sunnyvale Headache Center

 
 

One of the most commonly treated complaints in our office is headache. While there are many types of headaches with varying causes, the most common type is the "Muscular Tension Headache."

Tension headaches generally result from prolonged contraction of the suboccipital muscles. These muscles bridge the junction between the posterior (back) of the skull and the vertebrae (bones) of the cervical spine (neck). Several mechanisms seem to be involved in the causation of the common headache:
• Muscle inflammation and "trigger points."
• Joint irritation and nerve compression.

Muscle Inflammation and Trigger Points:

Today more than ever people are inclined to sit for hours with contracted postural muscles but without substantial physical activity. When muscles contract, they burn fuel and produce waste. Among the waste products of muscle contraction are lactic acid, histamine and bradykinins. These waste products are irritants. If they are not efficiently removed from the muscle they can cause muscular inflammation, pain and accumulate into localized tender areas known as "trigger points."

These waste products should normally be diluted and removed from the muscle tissue by the circulation. This process relies on the normal "contract - relax" cycle in the muscle. When the muscle contracts it creates a high pressure on the fluids inside the muscle and pushes the blood out carrying away muscular waste products. When the muscle relaxes, pressure decreases and blood floods back in, bringing vital nutrients and fuel.

When we sit or stand we are using the many back and neck muscles required to support our body. When these muscles are held contracted for a prolonged time (hours spent sitting or standing), they are producing irritating wastes, but not relaxing and draining themselves of these irritants. Over time these irritants can cause the muscles to lose their natural suppleness and resting length becoming stiffened and shortened. These stiffened and shortened muscles, often accompanied by trigger points can cause reflex headaches as well as pain into the neck and head.

Joint Irritation and Nerve Compression:

The vertebrae of the spine fit together on moving joints that provide strength to the structure of the spine and maintain the vertebrae in proper working alignment with one another. The joints of the spine in the neck are richly innervated (supplied) with nerve fibers that can cause pain in the head and neck if the joints are physically strained or injured.

Once the above process has produced stiffness and shortening of the muscles in the neck the joints of the spine are no longer properly stabilized or supported. The affected joints of the spine often become subluxated (misaligned). This causes strain and injury to the joints and supporting ligament tissue. The result of the combined subluxation, ligament strain and joint injury is often neck pain with associated headache.

Treatment:

Dr. Cady utilizes spinal manipulation to improve the motion of restricted joints. This combined with physical therapy modalities such as electrical muscle stimulation, ice and traction help to decrease the inflammation in the neck, which reduces your pain associated with headaches.

The next step is to keep your range of motion in your neck at a normal level. This is accomplished through proper stretches and exercises. Dr. Cady will guide you in your rehabilitation through the whole process.

Call us today for an appointment at 408-739-2273 to help your headaches now.