The short answer is yes, a pinched nerve can cause headaches and neck pain. When the source of a headache is the neck, it is referred to as a cervicogenic headache. The upper cervical spine, the top two bones of the neck, are often to blame when this type of a headache exists. We are going to take a closer look at the symptoms of a cervicogenic headache, some possible underlying causes, and a natural way to find headache relief when the source is the upper bones of the neck.
If you are at your wit’s end dealing with a chronic headache or migraine problem, do not give into despair. Natural relief is possible and understanding why the headaches are occurring can lead you to the right choice of therapeutic care.
Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches
If your headaches are starting in your neck, here are a few of the symptoms that you may experience along with the headache itself.
- Neck pain – Sometimes the neck may be stiff or sore either during the headache or in the hours leading up to the start of a headache.
- Nausea or vomiting – These are also symptoms of migraines. Either way, the genesis of the problem may be the upper cervical spine.
- Dizziness – Disruptions in the cervical spine can also lead to dizziness due to a reduced amount of blood and oxygen reaching certain parts of the brain.
- Light and sound sensitivities – Sensory sensitivities are another common migraine symptom, so if you are experiencing these sensory sensitivities, whether you are dealing with migraines or ordinary headaches, the neck is still the right place to look. This is because all of the signals that connect the brain to sensory stimuli have to come through the spinal cord and brainstem. The place where these two meet is inside the atlas (the top vertebra in the neck).
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the arms – The neck is the starting location of the nerves that travel all the way down both arms. So if you are experiencing pain in the shoulders, elbows, forearms, or wrists, the issue may be a pinched nerve in the neck.
- Decreased range of motion – The C1 and C2 vertebrae are responsible for more than half of the motion of the head, so if the headaches are starting from here, you may also experience a reduced range of motion in your neck and head.
While you may or may not experience these additional symptoms, it is always important to check the neck when headaches are recurring or chronic. But what can cause the misalignments that lead to cervicogenic headaches?
Underlying Causes of Pinched Nerves and Headaches
There are a number of possible causes that can affect the structures of the neck and lead to pinched nerves. The pinched nerves, in turn, are what cause the head and neck pain. Here are some of the possible issues that created the misalignments, soft tissue changes, and nerve irritation.
- Trauma – Head or neck injuries are the fastest way to shift the upper cervical spine out of alignment. Of course, a minor injury may not produce symptoms immediately. It could be months or even years before the headaches and other symptoms begin to occur or grow worse.
- Muscle strain – The body stores stress in the muscles of the neck, so the more stress you are dealing with, the more strain there is placed on the muscles of the neck. This can lead to pain, misalignments, and eventually the irritated nerves that cause headaches. It is no wonder then that the most common type of a headache is a tension headache.
- Poor posture – This is extremely common in an office setting. Even if your monitors are placed a little lower than eye level, this can lead to a forward head position. When the head is not positioned directly over the shoulders, the amount of stress on the neck increases exponentially. Other causes of poor posture are regularly checking mobile devices, holding a phone between one’s neck and shoulder, and sitting in a hunched position.
- Sleep problems – Whether it is your sleep position or the quality of your pillow, sleep issues can lead to neck problems. Avoid stomach sleeping, as this is the most stressful position for the neck. Also, be sure that your pillow offers the correct amount of support for your sleep position – more for side sleepers and less for back sleepers.
Now that you know some of the ways the issue may have started, we want to offer you a natural solution to upper cervical misalignments.
A Chiropractic Subspecialty That Helps Headaches and Neck Pain
If you thought all chiropractors were the same, we would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care. This is a very precise and gentle form of chiropractic that targets the top two bones in the neck. X-rays and other forms of diagnostic imaging are used to pinpoint misalignments down to hundredths of a degree. There is no popping or twisting of the neck – just low force adjustments that are tailored to each patient.
For some headache patients, upper cervical chiropractic has resulted in fewer and less severe headaches right from the first or second adjustment. Other patients find complete relief once irritation is removed from the nerves of the neck. To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic and how it can help you, contact a practitioner in your area. You may join the hundreds of other people who have finally found long-lasting relief from neck pain and headaches.