Headache is Often a Pain in the Neck

Many people suffer from headaches. It is a condition that has been documented since antiquity. Our ancient ancestors sought all kinds of unusual cures, even going to the extreme of drilling holes in the skull in an attempt to relieve the pressure in the head. Until very recently, even modern science was at a loss to explain what causes headaches.

It is now known there are different kinds of headaches, but one cause is the most common, the 80% of headaches that are related to your neck. Many years ago a French professor of medicine named Robert Maigne took note that chiropractors had theorized that many headaches were caused by problems in the neck and were having good success treating headaches with their treatments. Unfortunately, Maigne’s published research on this subject was largely ignored until recently, when a group of research anatomists have backed these theories up.

The key to all of this is the trigeminal nerve which from the brain exits the skull along both sides and runs along the side of the head to the forehead. Part of this nerve has connections with the spinal cord in the upper part of the neck with other nerves that exit from the upper bones of the neck. If there is a problem in the neck, the nerves are irritated and a headache is the symptom. The chiropractic approach was to manipulate or “adjust” the upper vertebrae in the neck to stop the nerve irritation and make the headache go away. For many years it was observed that this therapy often worked, but it was only recently understood why.

There are also other rarer causes of headaches besides neck problems that must always be ruled out, but this is the most common cause. Fortunately we have come a long way in treating headaches since the days of our ancestors drilling holes in their skulls.