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headaches and chronic neck pain: common causes, common sense solutions


Neck Pain Headache

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“Among chronic pain disorders, pain arising from various structures of the spine constitutes the majority of the [Chronic Pain] problems. The lifetime prevalence of spinal pain has been reported as 54% to 80%. Studies of the prevalence of neck pain and its impact in general have shown 15% with neck pain. Further, age related prevalence of persistent pain appears to be much more common in the elderly associated with functional limitations and difficulty in performing daily life activities. Chronic persistent low back and neck pain is seen in 25% to 60% of patients, one-year or longer after the initial episode.Spinal pain is associated with significant economic, societal, and health impact. Estimates and patterns of productivity losses and direct health care expenditures among individuals with back and neck pain in the United States continue to escalate. Recent studies have shown significant increases in the prevalence….”  From a 2009 issue of the Pain Physician (Comprehensive Review of Epidemiology, Scope, and Impact of Spinal Pain)
Study after study after study puts the incidence of CHRONIC NECK PAIN in the 15-20% range.  Add HEADACHES to the mix and the numbers skyrocket; especially as people get older.  If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans in this category; I feel for you.  Not just because your life has been altered by what you are dealing with, but because it is highly likely you have been riding the MEDICAL MERRY-GO-ROUND.  Unfortunately, Neck Pain and Headaches are two of the main categories of something called MUPS (Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms).  Today, I want to show you some of the common causes of these problems, as well as a few common sense solutions.  After all; who wants to live the rest of their life being EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE’S test subject (on PAIN PILLS, MUSCLE RELAXERS, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS, and SPINAL INJECTIONS)? 

  • SUBLUXATION:    This word simply means that you have lost a percentage of normal alignment and / or normal joint motion in your neck or back.  Because ARTHRITIS shows up so easily on X-rays and ADVANCE IMAGING TESTS, it typically receives the brunt of the blame — particularly in the over-30 crowd.  I am going to throw the REVERSE CERVICAL CURVE in here as well.    SOLUTION:  CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS can provide tremendous benefit.  Just remember that you don’t need TOO MANY.   The DAKOTA TRACTION DEVICE is super helpful at restoring the normal curve, and COLD LASER can be an excellent modality to promote healing (we are already assuming that you are STRETCHING).  BOTTOM LINE:  Although this will provide great results for a significant portion of the “Chronic Neck Pain” populations, don’t be surprised if you have to move to the next bullet point.

  • SCAR TISSUE & FIBROSIS:  Even though it’s as thin as cellophane, when the tough, mucousy, membrane that covers muscles and other tissues (FASCIA) becomes ADHESED OR FIBROTIC, you’ll have big problems on your hands in the form of pain and loss of function / motion.  SOLUTION:  SCAR TISSUE REMODELING.  Sure, you may end up with the worst bruise of your life (HERE).  But once you understand that Scar Tissue can be 1,000 TIMES MORE PAIN-SENSITIVE than normal tissue, you can see why getting rid of it is so critical.  BOTTOM LINE:  If you’ve been getting the treatment regimen laid out in the previous bullet point (tons of Chiropractic or therapy with little to show for it), there is a high probability that this will provide you with some answers. 

  • INFLAMMATION:  Any time you hear the word “itis” you know the discussion is about INFLAMMATION.  If you click the link, you’ll also see that it (Inflammation) always leads to Scar Tissue.   Although local Inflammation is part of the normal healing process (HERE), Systemic Inflammation will crush your ability to heal.  A huge cause of both Inflammation and Chronic Headaches is UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR.  If you are living the HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE, you are at risk for a wide array of problems, including the two we are discussing today.  SOLUTIONS:  The secret to solving Inflammation is figuring out what’s driving it.  The list is almost endless:  GLUTEN, YEAST, PARASITES, an OLD HEAD INJURY, MOLD, a CRAPPY DIET, HEAVY METALS (but not THIS ONE), ANTIBIOTICS, DYSBIOSIS, CHRONIC INFECTIONS, BAD TEETH, WEAK STOMACH ACID, DEHYDRATION, along with any number of others.  The cool thing is that the SOLUTION TO ALL OF THEM is virtually identical.  BOTTOM LINE:  If you are struggling in this area, do not expect the medical community to figure it out.  Sure, they can prescribe you any number of drugs, but drugs are rarely a solution for chronic health problems.  You’ll have to make some fairly radical lifestyle changes and possibly see someone who understands “Functional Medicine”.

I’m that crazy guy who believes that there is a solution out there for each and every one of you, as long as the problem is not rigor mortis.  It’s just a matter of finding it, and finding the right person to help you find it.  The thing is, you’ll have to help yourself.  Real health is something that you largely do for yourself, while the practice of medicine is just that; doctors practicing (trial and error) with all sorts of drugs, including ANTIDEPRESSANTS.  That’s right; if you haven’t already been diagnosed with DEPRESSION, it’s coming.  Stop taking your problems lying down.  Get up, and in the words of the RHCP, “Fight Like a Brave“.


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