Headaches – Are they “Normal?”

First, let’s highlight a few types of headaches.  Patients may have:

  • tension headaches
  • occipital headaches
  • sinus headaches
  • dehydration headaches
  • toxic headaches
  • migraine headaches

80-90% of people suffer from one of the above types of headache at some point in their lives.  So, yes, headaches are “normal” in the sense that they are very common. But are they also “harmless?”  Let’s break it down again by type of headache.

  • tension headaches – often accompanied by or caused by neck tension and increased pressure within the cranium.  This could include blood flow (oxygen) and or cerebrospinal fluid flow. Improper ear or sinus drainage may or may not accompany this condition.  Correctable and preventable by removing restriction of blood flow and/or cerebrospinal fluid flow within the cranium.
  • occipital headaches – pain is centered around the top of the neck and the back of the head.  Always accompanied by swelling and irritation of the suboccipital nerves and muscles.  Pain can feel tight or throb. Can be induced by long term postural distortion (sitting/sleeping wrong, long term computer use, prolonged work on hands and knees, etc.) May or may not radiate into other areas of the head or neck.  Correctable and preventable by elimination of the cause of swelling and irritation of nerves and muscles at the back of the head/top of the neck.
  • sinus headaches – pain in the face/sinuses, almost always accompanied by an increase in sinus pressure and dysfunction of drainage of the sinuses from the head.  Sometimes linked to seasonal allergies, but can happen any time of year. Usually caused by improper drainage within the sinuses. Can be corrected and prevented by locating and correcting drainage restriction.
  • dehydration headaches – can present and be misinterpreted as tension headaches, occipital headaches, or other type of mild headache. Primary cause of this type of headache is dehydration.  Even with the elimination of restriction within the cranium, pain may persist until proper hydration levels are reached. Can be corrected and prevented by drinking plenty of water per day, and limiting diuretic liquids like soda, coffee, and alcohol.  
  • toxic headaches – caused by inflammation in the body triggered by a reaction to an outside chemical from environmental toxin, prescription drug interaction, food allergy or sensitivity, fragrance sensitivity.  Can usually be corrected by removing the offending toxin and allowing the body to properly “cleanse.” Residual structural irritations may persist if toxicity affected muscle function. Most structural irritations can be corrected.
  • migraine headaches – the most painful and debilitating of all headaches.  85-90% of the these headaches are caused by arterial irritation by the top of the spine/atlas bone.  A large portion of these are also complicated by restriction of cerebrospinal fluid flow at the base of the skull, compounding pressure abnormalities within the brain.  Correctable and preventable in most cases by correcting misalignment of the atlas bone, thereby removing arterial irritation and normalizing pressures within the skull. Some cases can be compounded by chemical or toxic sensitivities, which affect muscle and cause atlas to “slip” back into irritating position.  In those cases, removal of toxic triggers is essential for correcting of atlas misalignment to maintain. Those cases are two fold

Headaches, no matter their form, are a sign that something is going wrong in the body.  Think of it in terms of a tornado siren. The siren itself isn’t the problem – it is the warning system to alert us to the real danger – the tornado.  Headaches are a symptom – a warning system in the body to alert us that something isn’t right. Damage is being done in one way or another, and something needs to be done to correct that damage (the CAUSE) of the headaches.  What damage is being done by “normal” headaches?

  • tension headaches – increased inflammation in the body contributes to fatigue, sickness, and usually is accompanied by shifts within the spine.  These shifts cause degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease. Decrease of blood flow within the cranium/increased pressure within the cranium impede proper brain function and thinking.
  • occipital headaches – very similar to tension headaches in long term damage to the body.  
  • sinus headaches – very similar to tension and occipital headaches in terms of long term damage to the body, with the addition of increased infection of the sinuses, long term irritation and scar tissue formation of the sinuses, and depression of the immune system due to prolonged/frequent infection.  
  • dehydration headaches – lack of proper water levels in the body causes damage and dysfunction to nearly all organ systems.
  • toxic headaches – pain from toxic headaches is inflammation in the body due to a bad reaction to a substance that does not agree with the body.  Depending on the particular substance, damage to the brain, kidneys, gut, and other organ systems is varied. The headache is the “tornado siren.”
  • migraine headaches –  migraine headaches are the loudest “siren” of all.  Migraine headaches left uncorrected can lead to brain lesions, lack of blood flow (oxygen) to the brain and subsequently decreased normal function, and lack of quality of life.  Migraine headache sufferers who also have a toxic component can suffer damage from both – the direct blood flow abnormality, AND the effects of toxins within the body. In these cases, both must be addressed to eliminate headaches and further damage to the body.

A common thread – Atlas Misalignment

The majority of these headache types are caused by dysfunction in the craniocervical junction and can be corrected with a proper atlas misalignment correction.  What kind of headache do you have? What do you think your life would be like without headaches? Our patients are finding this out every day.

Atlas Orthogonal vs. General Chiropractic

Atlas Orthogonal chiropractic is NOT general chiropractic.  In fact, most of our patients have been to multiple other general chiropractors and received no help from them.  80-95% of these patients who complete care with Atlas Orthogonal are now symptom free or significantly improved.

What Atlas Orthogonal is:

  • A highly advanced, purely scientific method of correcting even the most complex misalignments of the atlas bone that general chiropractic cannot correct.
  • A gentle approach that never needs a twist or a pop, and never adjusts a joint past its normal range of motion.  All of our adjustments are within the normal range of motion of the joint. There is no guess work.
  • A powerful tool for all chiropractic patients – simple to extreme – to achieve comfortable and complete correction of misalignment of the spine and a level of symptom relief not achieved by any other approach.

What Atlas Orthogonal is NOT:

  • A basic, general guess at correction of the spine.  General chiropractic can address 1, or 2 factors of a misalignment.  We measure 8 different factors of misalignment in multiple combinations to be able to correct a broader picture complex misalignment.
  • A belief system. A.O. was developed by Dr. Roy W. Sweat and a group of engineers at Georgia Tech by using precise measurements of joint surfaces and angles, misalignment angles and degrees, tissue density in the area, joint type and viscosity, physics and biomechanics.  This is not a blind faith that an adjustment will help the body to heal. This is hard science. We are actually measuring exactly where and how the body is misaligned, and calculating exactly how to correct it precisely, completely, and comfortably within the normal range of motion of the joint. In this way, we are able to help the people general chiropractic can help, and also a broad range of more complex cases that general chiropractic cannot help, all in a very comfortable and safe way.


To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book Natural and Drug-Free Ways to End Your Migraines by clicking the image below.

Natural relief of migraines in West Des Moines Iowa

Finding the Root Cause of Migraines

While avoiding triggers is a great idea to decrease the frequency of migraines, it is also important to find out what the underlying cause is. There is evidence suggesting a misalignment of the bones of the neck, particularly the C1 and C2 vertebrae, can be the root cause. If either of these bones is misaligned, the brainstem is put under stress. The brainstem has the important job of relaying signals to and from the brain and body. If it is stressed, this may lead to migraine symptoms.

Dr. Erin Elster reported on a case study of a 35-year-old woman who suffered from migraines and tension headaches on a daily basis. This continued for 12 years with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. She began receiving upper cervical chiropractic care, and after just 3 months, her migraine symptoms disappeared.

At Precision Chiropractic West, we use a specific technique called Atlas Orthogonal that is a gentle way to help the bones of the neck reposition themselves. We never crack or pop the back or neck. When the bones are realigned, the body can repair any damage that has occurred. This is helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines. Some, as mentioned in the above case study, see them go away entirely.

To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Laurel Griffin or call 515-224-1093