Chiropractic is great for those struggling with headaches, in fact, it is one of the top three reasons patients present to our office along with back pain and neck pain. For some, headaches have become something they just “deal with” and are what they consider a normal part of their life. The important thing to remember is that headaches are a sign that sometimes there is a physical thing causing them that can be addressed. Headaches shouldn’t become a normal part of life, in fact, we’ve had some patients that have never had a headache in their whole life. Can you imagine not even knowing what a headache feels like because you’ve never had one? Sounds great, right? Today, let’s look at a specific and common type of headache, the suboccipital headache.

Symptoms of a suboccipital headache:

Suboccipital headaches produce pain that often begins in the upper neck. Patients often tell us “it seems to start in my neck on one side or both sides and then radiates into my head.” It can feel like a throbbing or dull ache that is unrelenting and keeps you from being able to focus or do anything because it is so painful and distracting. Here are some of the common symptoms of a suboccipital headache:

  • Pain in the upper neck
  • Pain in the back of the head and above the ears that can be hard to localize.
  • Pain that can sometimes travel into the temples or around the eye or eyes.
  • Increased pain when moving the head or neck.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Tenderness in the scalp.

Causes of a suboccipital headache:

The cause of suboccipital headaches is not clear-cut. We know that it results from some time of irritation to the occipital nerves. These nerves travel from around the upper cervical vertebra into the head underneath the scalp. When the nerves are compressed or irritated they send pain signals back to the brain. Some of the common causes of this irritation are as follows:

  • Segmental and somatic dysfunction of the C1 and C2 vertebra and the occiput.
  • The rigidity of the neck.
  • Contraction of the suboccipital muscles. These are the little muscles surrounding cervical vertebrae.
  • Poor posture along with poor work ergonomics.

Treatment for suboccipital headaches:

Chiropractic care is great for treating suboccipital headaches. The spine is meant to be mobile, which allows us to move our back and neck in so many different ways. When we lose this movement or have dysfunctional movement it’s important to look for a chiropractor that can help. At AccessHealth we develop a plan of treatment that works for you and can get you healthy without drugs, surgery, or expensive medical interventions. Here are some of our treatments for suboccipital headaches:

  • Manipulating cervical vertebra to relieve pressure on the occipital nerves.
  • Manual muscle therapy to relax and restore correct suboccipital muscle tone.
  • Postural correction exercises to improve posture in the long run.
  • Rehabilitation plans to correct the muscular balance and to help the pain.

The big picture on chiropractic for suboccipital headaches:

Chiropractic care is safe and can often help. Medical doctors are great at diagnosing this problem and ruling out other causes but often don’t have an effective solution besides prescribing medication and physical therapy. If you have been suffering from suboccipital headaches it is smart for you to see a chiropractor and address the actual cause. It will save you a lot of pain and suffering, and money. If you have any questions give our Cary, NC chiropractic office a call and we’d love to set up a free consultation.