Are Headaches A Pain in the Neck?

IMG_3632We’ve heard the expression “a pain in the neck”.  It is used to describe something that causes trouble or a source of unhappiness.   But what if headaches were caused by a pain in the neck?  Well…they can be! This type of headache is referred to as a cervicogenic headache due to originating in the cervical spine (neck).  Almost half of the population (about 47%) suffer from headaches, and approximately 20% of them have headaches that originate from the neck.


Cervicogenic headaches are one of the many types of headaches under the International Classification of headache disorders.  Based on this classification, headaches are divided into primary and secondary types of headaches and further classified into classes.  These classes to name a few are: migraines, cluster headaches, rebound, tension-type, and there are even more severe type headaches due to injuries or other factors.  But were not going to go into detail on every headache type, that would take too long!

Cervicogenic headaches originate in the spine and refer pain into the head.  These Unknown copy 4headaches are a result of sustained pressure or stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves that originate from the cervical spine.

Symptoms that are associated with cervicogenic headaches:

  • Dull headache at the base of the skull or neck
  • Neck stiffness with motion
  • Unilateral or bilateral pain in the back of head, neck or temples
  • Pain and stiffness with activities or specific neck positions such as computer users, sleeping or poor posture
  • Tightness or tenderness of neck, shoulder or pectoral muscles

What are some of the causes for cervicogenic headaches?   Well as stated before there is strain on the structures that originate from the cervical vertebrae.  When these structures are held in prolonged positions this creates stress and strain to the muscles and surrounding soft tissue resulting in dysfunction of the cervical vertebrae, which causes the cervicogenic headache. An example would be poor posture when working on the computer.


Some of the professions that can result in these specific types of headaches are professions that are mainly computer based, painters, hairdressers and carpenters.  Other risk factors are poor posture for long periods of time that cause strain to the surrounding structures in the neck (i.e. sleeping in a chair), using a computer or cell phone for hours without proper support to the neck, or trauma to the neck causing injury to the muscles and soft tissue in the neck (i.e. whiplash).

Treatments for cervicogenic headaches include: chiropractic, physical therapy, and imagesmassage therapy.

  • Chiropractors locate areas in the spine that are not moving properly and treat these areas to eliminate the dysfunction on the surrounding structures that cause the headaches.
  • Physical therapists incorporate exercises to strengthen weak muscles and tissues to promote proper function and proper posture.
  • Massage therapists work on tight muscles that are overworking due to the weaker muscles

There are additional ways to treat headaches but these treatments locate the areas in the cervical spine to treat specifically cervicogenic headaches due to their cause originating from the spine and surroundings structures.

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Benefits of Walking

Walking provides many benefits! From cardiovascular health, mental health, even spinal health!


What are the benefits of walking?

  1. Helps with bone loss (osteoporosis)

Walking is a weight-bearing low-impact exercise that helps build and strengthen bone.

  1. Weight loss

Walking is an exercise that allows us to burn calories and ultimately lose weight. Losing weight helps reduce strain on muscles and ligaments in our spine.

  1. walk pic 4Supports the joints

Walking allows for nutrients to be supplied to the joints in the body. Joints don’t have a blood supply, that’s why walking is beneficial to help ‘circulate’ the fluid in the joints to get those nutrients.

  1. Strengthens muscles

Walking activates muscles in the legs, hips, feet and abdomen. When these muscles are engaged they are becoming stronger and increase the stability of the spine to help keep the body upright.

  1. Decreases disability and pain

Walking allows us to be more ACTIVE! By being more active allows our bodies to do more. Walking helps with balance and coordination, provides flexibility, increases range-of-motion and decreases chances of injury. Thus, decreasing or relieving back pain.

  1. Improves circulation

Walking brings up your heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart.

  1. Improves mood

Walking makes us happy! During activity natural pain killing endorphins are released.

  1. Helps with sleep

Walking has been shown to help people fall asleep or sleep longer through the night.

  1. Decreases mental decline

Walking studies have shown that walking daily helped reduce incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Improves Breathing

Walking increases breathing rate allowing oxygen to get into the bloodstream faster, and allow for eliminating of waste products. Also, improves energy level and healing process.

Walk pic

How to Get Started:

  1. Wear the Right shoes
  • By wearing the correct shoes will help maintain correct walking technique and walk pic 3prevent injury.
  • Walking shoes need to fit properly.
  • There should be plenty of cushion in the soles of the shoe to absorb impact.
  • Replace your walking shoes about every 6 months or 300-500 miles of wear.
  1. Warm-up and Stretch
  • A warm-up and stretch before walking to decrease injury, increase performance and decrease post-exercise muscle soreness.
  1. Plan your course
  • Map out your course.
  • Decide how far you want to walk. Gradually increase your distance as you continue to walk.
  • Walking on smooth terrain or rubberized tracks reduce stress on the spine and joints from impact.


  1. walk pic 2Use good posture
  • Keep head up and looking forward.
  • Keep neck, shoulders and back relaxed.
  • Swing arms freely in coordination with opposite leg.
  • Engage core muscles and keep back straight, avoid leaning forward or arching backwards.


  1. Get your spine checked
  • Have your spine checked for misalignments in the spine, pelvis and extremities.
  • This allows for mobility in joints and reduces incidents of injury.
  • If there is a pre-existing problem it can cause imbalance leading to discomfort or injury.
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Winter Injury due to Slipping, Tripping or Falling

The winter weather is upon us. Snowy, icy and frigid conditions that make it a challenge to walk safely from your vehicle to your destination. Typically during the winter months there are more slip and fall types accidents then tripping related accidents. In the state of Michigan these accidents are slipping on a step, slipping and falling on a walkway or parking lot, tripping on walkways, sliding on puddles from melted snow, or tripping over snow shovel or other equipment.


Here are the facts about winter slip and fall injuries:

  • Slip and fall accidents make up 15 % of winter work related injuries
  • It’s the second leading cause for an injury
  • CDC estimates 20-30% of slip and fall accidents result in moderate to severe injuries of bruises, hip fractures and head injury.
  • Michigan’s worker compensation is made up of 32% of claims due to falls with a 1/3 being a result from slips and falls on ice.
  • Almost 80% of slips and falls due to snow and ice occur in parking lots or sidewalks.
  • Most slips and falls during the winter occur in the morning between 6:00 am and noon.
  • 24% of slip and fall accidents are caused by footwear.

IMG_3459 2Slips, Trips and Falls defined:

  • Slip is too little friction or traction between feet and walking surface resulting in loss of balance.
  • Trip is when foot or lower leg hits an object and the upper body continues to move resulting in loss of balance.
  • Falling is a result of a slip when an irregular body movement disrupts balance.


The most common causes for slip and falls to occur during the winter months are due to slippery walking surfaces, incorrect footwear and distractions. Slippery surfaces are an obvious cause for slipping and falling on ice or snow. While footwear is a big contributor to falls since heels or dress shoes do not have tread to provide traction on the walking surface. Also distractions can be talking or texting on the phone, carrying oversized items, or carrying bags and children that can impact balance or obstruct view.

1299081289_1Moderate to severe injuries can occur when slipping on ice or snow to even falling. When slipping and catching one’s self to prevent a fall can result in more soft tissue related injuries of strains and sprains. More severe injuries occur when falling and can result in bruising, dislocations, cuts and scraps, broken bones and compression fractures, concussions and other head related injuries, or even loss of life.

Preventing slips and falls from occurring during the winter months.

  • Wear proper footwear
    • Shoes that have tread to give good traction or rubber soles
  • Plan ahead
    • Allow sufficient time to get to destination
  • Pay attention
  • Avoid carrying large loads (that limit vision)
  • Don’t block field of vision
    • Scarf, hat or carrying oversized items obstruct vision
  • Keep hands free for balance or use handrails
  • Walk in designated walkways or clear pathways
  • Smaller steps (give better center of balance)
  • Walk slowly (don’t run)


Chiropractors treat some of the injuries that are a result of slips and falls during the winter months. Many chronic conditions can be exacerbated when slipping and falling due to jarring of the body resulting in spinal misalignments. If these spinal misalignments are not treated then the pain caused will continue until treated.   Chiropractors evaluate the spine to determine if any spinal misalignments are present. There may be some aches and pains present for a few days after a slip and fall injury in which chiropractic may be beneficial to treat.  A complete evaluation of the spine and surrounding structures is done to determine if there are any spinal misalignments and if patient can be treated.

Seek immediate medical attention if a severe injury has occurred such a severe bruising, broken bones or trauma to the head.


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Start the New Year with a Healthier Immune System

Our immune system is responsible for protecting the body from foreign substances. UnknownThese foreign substances are the typical viruses and bacteria that can make up the yearly cold and flu season. The immune system responds by recognizing these foreign substances, defending against it and attacking it.

The first line of defense is the skin (the largest organ of the body), and mucosal membranes of the respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts. The next line of defense is the white blood cells (wbcs) that circulate through the bloodstream searching for foreign substances. These white blood cells are dispersed throughout the body by primary lymphoid organs( thymus and bone marrow). Secondary lymphoid organs generate specific immune responses from foreign substances that have been found within the body. The organs that are involved in this process are the spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils, liver, appendix, and Peyer’s patches (small intestines).

The immune system is complex and involves many organs in order to function. And like every organ system in the body, the immune system is controlled by the nervous system. These organs communicate with the brain through nerves. During the immune response the nervous system and immune system communicate to coordinate the overall response to the foreign substance. This requires the two systems to work effectively. If the nervous system is not functioning properly than the immune system loses its efficacy and becomes weak and susceptible to infections.


The endocrine system also plays an important role with the immune system by regulating the immune system through the release of hormones and allows for the development of a healthy immune system. These systems need to be balanced or what is referred to as homeostasis, in order to work at its optimal potential.

What can be done to support the immune system? There are many factors that can result in the immune system to not function properly. Poor health habits can suppress the immune system. This is why it’s important to adopt good health habits to boost the immune system. Here are ways to boost the immune system and make healthier choices this coming year!

988965_10154918101795245_316952130437254508_nChiropractic: Chiropractic identifies vertebral subluxations in the spine that cause nerve interference. Since the immune system is controlled by the nervous system, if there is interference to the nerves that help control the immune response it can weaken the immune response to viruses and bacteria. When these vertebral subluxations are corrected the nervous system and the organs that are controlled are able to work at its optimal best.

Exercise: Physical activity has been found to flush out bacteria and viruses in the lungs images-3and increase waste elimination through urine and sweat. Exercise increases circulation of disease-fighting white blood cells and allows for efficient lymphatic drainage. There is a temporary increase in body temperature, which prevents bacterial growth and reduces stress by slowing down stress-related hormones.

1620880_10154877271310245_62136068908350417_nSleep: Sleep is essential for your immune system because during sleep more proteins and antibodies are produced to help fight infections. When there is a lack of sleep these proteins are decreased and are less effective at fighting an illness. Lack of sleep can cause an increase in stress hormones.

Nutritional foods: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are beneficial to the body by stopping damage from happening at the cellular level due to oxidative stress. There are many fruits loaded with antioxidants and   vitamins. Fruits and vegetables to include are broccoli, carrots, berries, grapefruit, kale, oranges, spinach, green peppers, asparagus, kiwi, and cantaloupe to name a few. Along with fruits and vegetables, there are many other foods with benefits that help support he immune system, such as: yogurt (active live cultures), oats and barley, garlic and coconut oil.


Unknown-2 Supplements: Supplements also help to support the immune system by providing
essential vitamins to help maintain proper function and immune fighting capabilities. Supplements to boost during cold and flu season are vitamin C and D to increase the effectiveness of the immune system. Other supplements that help when incidences of illness occur are vitamin C, zinc, and elderberry.

10422301_10154859297385245_7949160321629319003_nReduce Stress: Chronic stress can reduce the number of immune cells that are produced to fight off infection making the body more susceptible to illness.

Water: Water helps to facilitate the cleansing process and helps function by keeping respiratory membranes moist to repel infections.


Increased sugar intake, smoking, and alcohol can greatly affect the function of the immune system by causing infections to last longer.

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As we know the spinal column has curves. These curves are considered normal as they serve a function as shock absorbers to the spine. Curvatures in the spine that deviate laterally are referred to as scoliosis. Scoliosis is typically seen in children but can also be seen in adults depending on the severity of the scoliosis and the type of treatment.


The National Scoliosis Foundation reports that 2-3 % of the population (approximately 6 million people in the U.S.) is affected by scoliosis. Scoliosis is diagnosed most commonly in 10-15 year old children with girls being eight times more likely for the lateral curve to progress enough to require treatment. Over 85% of the diagnosed scoliosis cases are considered idiopathic, meaning of unknown cause.

Scoliosis is classified into structural or functional (non-structural). Structural scoliosis can be congenital (at birth) or acquired. Some examples of structural scoliosis causes are: trauma, neurological disease and tumors. Functional scoliosis is seen with postural issues, muscle spasms, and leg length discrepancy.

Scoliosis can affect quality of life depending on the severity of the lateral curvature. It can limit activity, cause pain, reduce lung and heart function if curvatures worsen. Some of the curvatures are considered mild and will not show visual changes in body appearance due to the nature of lateral curvature. But some mild curvatures can rapidly worsen with growth spurts causing more symptoms and significant structural changes.


Scoliosis is evaluated by taking a thorough history and evaluation of the patient. Evaluating the patient’s posture is critical in determining if there is scoliosis present. There is usually shoulder and pelvic unleveling seen upon evaluation. The test that is performed is Adam’s test, where the patient is standing upright and asked to bend down. With this test it can help determine if the scoliosis is structural or functional in nature. If the curve is structural, the curve will remain when the patient bends forward causing the shoulders to become uneven and the ‘rib hump’ can be seen. If the curve is functional, the curve will disappear when the patient bends forward.

Diagnostic testing is recommended for substantial spine curvatures, which is an x-ray evaluation of the spine. X-rays help evaluate the curvature of the spine. If there is an underlying cause it may be evident on the spinal x-rays but the most crucial element of the x-ray examination is the measuring of the curvature. This is the Cobb Angle. A spinal curvature can be deviated to the left or to the right. Scoliosis is typically a C curve but in some cases can cause an S curve. The curvatures can be in the thoracic spine, the thoraco-lumbar spine, the lumbar spine, or in the case of an S Curve be in both the thoracic and lumbar spine. Most commonly it is deviated to the right. The curve is measured using the Cobb method. A true scoliosis measures 10 degrees or more. A spinal curvature less than 10 degree is not considered scoliosis, but should be monitor if still an adolescent.


Any patient with a scoliotic curve should be monitored, especially with a child. Rapid growth spurts cause the curvature to quickly increase causing more symptoms and issues. Adults that have reached skeletal maturity (stopped growing) are less likely for the scoliosis to progress. X-ray evaluations may be done from a few months to a year to monitor the progress of a scoliosis.

Scoliosis treatments may vary depending the measured curvature. If the scoliosis is considered mild (less than 20 degrees), it is typically under observation. A moderate scoliosis (20-40 degrees) is monitored and typically bracing is used to help prevent the curvature from worsening. A severe scoliosis is over 40 degrees and surgery is the recommended treatment due to the curvature affecting the heart, lungs and vital organs.


Treating scoliosis conservatively through chiropractic is an option also. Mild cases of scoliosis and possibly even moderate cases of scoliosis can be treated through chiropractic. Patients are seen more frequently and can monitor the patient through observation and postural analysis. Chiropractic works to keep movement at each vertebral level of the spine to allow the spine to be more mobile. Removing the misalignments in the spine can help resolve pain and associated muscle spasms due to the scoliosis. By also incorporating postural recommendations and exercises to help stretch and strengthen the spine along with its surrounding musculature. Conservative treatment may not reduce or worsen the scoliosis but this form of treatment has been shown to help manage the pain and discomforts caused by scoliosis.

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Posture Got You Down?

Poor posture affects all of us, from the office professional sitting at a computer to the manufacturer standing all day.  We are all impacted by our activities of daily living and make a sacrifice to our posture to just being able to get through the day.  Our poor posture is more than what it appears to be, it can cause more issues through pain, headaches and even injuries.

Posture is the position you hold your body against gravity.  These are the static activities IMG_0453of sitting, standing and lying down.  And even the dynamic activities of walking, running, and lifting.  Good posture is the position of your body in these positions with the least amount of stress or strain on the supporting structures (muscles and ligaments) or while doing an activity.  Poor posture is the position of your body that produces more stress and strain on the supporting muscles in the body while in a position or while doing an activity.

Our spines have curvatures that help with mechanical loads on the body to reduce the stress that it can have on the spine.  Basically these curvatures keep us balanced, allow flexibility, and act like natural shock absorbers by distributing stress on the body through movement.  Poor posture can reduce these normal curvatures in the spine causing more stress to the body and resulting in more harm then good.  It also can cause overstraining of the spinal muscles, ligaments and joints thus affecting the natural curvature of the spine resulting in further problems.



What does poor posture look like?  Well some of the signs are:

  • Increased roundness in the upper back
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Forward head
  • More weight on balls of feet
  • Arched lower back

When we are stooped or slouched the muscles and ligaments struggle to keep the body balanced and results in the poor posture that the body has grown accustom too as the ‘normal’ posture.  This increases the stress on the body and causes neck pain, back pain, headaches, joint-related injuries and muscle strains.

This is why maintaing a Good posture is key to keeping the spine strong and stable.  It will keep the bones and joints of the spine in proper alignment and decreases abnormal wear on the joints, reduces the stress on the ligaments minimizing injury, promotes proper use of the muscles, prevents muscle fatigue and pain, prevents overuse due to muscle strain, allows optimal breathing and gives a healthier body image.

Ways to improve posture is to practice good posture in your daily activities.  Incorporate core strengthening exercises, reduce stress, set-up yourwork environment ergonomically, and wearing support shoes.  Reducing strain is ESSENTIAL to PREVENTING REOCCURANCES.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following to maintaining a healthy posture:

Proper Sitting posture

  • Have feet resting on the floor or on a footrestimages-1
  • Ankles are just in front of the knees
  • Keep knees at the level of your hips or slightly below the hips
  • Use back supports to support lower back and mid-back
  • Keep shoulders relaxed with forearms parallel to the floor
  • Take breaks to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Proper Standing posture

  • Bear weight mainly on balls of feetUnknown-3
  • Keeps slight bend in knees
  • Keep feet about shoulder-width apart
  • Arms hang naturally to the side of the body
  • Stand straight and tall with shoulders pulled back
  • Keep head leveled
  • Shift weight from toes to heels, or each foot if standing for long periods of time

Proper Lying posture

  • Find a support mattress for comfort and supportUnknown-4
  • Sleep with a pillow to support the cervical curvature
  • Avoid sleeping on the stomach, due to increase low back strain
  • Sleep on side or on back
  • Sleeping on the side with a pillow between knees.  Don’t let knees go passed width of hips
  • Sleeping on your back with a pillow under the knees reduce lumbar strain

Chiropractic can help address posture-relates issues.  Incorporating chiropractic care, postural exercises, instructions of proper posture during activities, and work environment recommendations.  Chiropractic can also help rule out any complicating factors that may be the cause for any poor posture.

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Make Health your New Year Resolution

Its two weeks into the New Year….where are you with YOUR goals?  We’ve all made our list of resolutions for 2014, but how far have you taken them.  Usually these involve losing weight, diet and exercise, which are all great things to pursue.  It’s easy to say “Effective January 1st, I’m going to the gym or watching my food intake”.  Yet every year it becomes another challenge to keep up with all of these commitments.


Did you know that ONLY 8% of people successfully achieve their resolution, and that 24% of people never succeed and fail their resolution.  This is of the 41% of people that actually make a New Year’s Resolution.  In the top 5 resolutions, two are about our health in regards to losing weight and staying fit.  So, why do we punish ourselves every year? And why do we give up after only a few weeks of trying?  Good question….


There are some things to consider when staying committed and succeeding with our health.  It obviously takes time and there needs to be continual motivation.  It has shown that it takes 21 days (that’s 3 weeks) for a new activity to become a habit!  So, starting a workout routine and changing eating habits is the most challenging in the first 3 weeks of starting.  So, with the resolutions you’ve made for 2014, DON’T GIVE UP!  There are 5 aspects to be successful with your new goals:

  • Likeability:  is this something that you will like to do?  If you don’t like to run then don’t commit to running, try another form of cardio like bicycling, or take classes for yoga, or zumba.  If you don’t like to count calories, try an alternative diet, eat more greens, cut out pop, etc.
  • Specificity: How are you going to commit to your goal?  Are you going to commit to the 3 mornings a week for 30 minutes?  Are you going to start eating healthy buy cutting out pop?
  • Realism:  set your goals realistically.  Start with small goals of losing 5 pounds the first month.  Or cutting out different 1 food that isn’t so healthy with more healthy choices each week.
  • Patience:  It takes time.  We won’t reach our goals overnight.  Results take time.  Setting those small goals help us to reach our big goal.
  • Resilience:  As stated above it takes 3 weeks to adjust to a new change.


So, things to think about when continuing with your goals this year.

  • Start small
  • Change one behavior at a time
  • Track your progress
  • Reward yourself with your achievements
  • Don’t beat yourself up
  • Get a group together to workout or plan meals

There are some great resources and applications out there to help track your progress and provide recipes.

If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctor for more information.

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