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Cluster Headaches

 If I could tell you that a specific upper cervical chiropractic adjustment would benefit people with cluster headaches, would you read on?  But first, the details on what a cluster headache is.  Most people would say that the cluster headache is the most severe form of a headache.  The pain is usually on one side of the head and can last 3 hours.  This intense pain can occurr frequently at a time all “clustered” together.  The onset is quick and there are typically no preliminary signs that it is coming.

Cluster headaches have been tied to:

  • history of alcohol consumption
  • brain concussion following trauma
  • hereditary factors
  • seasonal changes
  • upper cervical subluxations

Cluster headache pain…

The pain of a cluster headache is behind the eye or in the temple, radiating to the neck and shoulder.  It has been described to feel like a red hot poker drilling into the eye, or a spike being driven down the top of the head, through the eye and into the neck.  If you want to know how bad it is, cluster headaches have been called “the suicide headache” because it is so pain ful, people want to and succeed in killing themselves.

Other symptoms of cluster headaches may include

  • Drooping eyelid
  • Redness of the eye
  • Tearing of the eye
  • Runny nose
  • Facial blushing and swelling
  • Facial sweating
  • All on the same side as the pain.

What happens after a cluster headache?

After such a terrible bout of pain, the cluster headache sufferer may become exhausted, depressed, anxious that it will happen again.  The person may have neck pain and stiffness after the cluster headache.

How does a cluster headache work?

Cluster headaches are vascular headaches caused by dilation of the blood vessels around the fifth cranial nerve called the Trigeminal Nerve.  The fifth cranial nerve is responsible for sensation of the face.  It has three branches, the ophthalmic around the eye, the maxillary for the upper jaw and the mandibular for the lower jaw.  It’s  job is to provide pain sensation of the face to the brain.

Conventional approaches to cluster headaches.

Traditional medicine has no cure for cluster headaches.  Decreasing the pain and duration are the goals along with possible prevention.  Oxygen therapy, migraine medications, nasal sprays of local anasthetics to numb the pain, injectable drugs, inhalers and intravenous drugs are the current form of treatment.

The Mayo clinic says “Preventive therapy starts at the onset of the cluster episode with the goal of suppressing attacks.” 

Question:  How is it called prevention when the treatment starts at the onset of the cluster headache?  The headache is already there.  That is like saying you prevented the burglar from coming into your house when he was inside already.

A new treatment in medicine is to stimulate the occipital nerve in order to stimulate the trigeminal nerve.  Implanting a pacemaker sized device at the back of the head and neck. 

The Chiropractic approach to cluster headaches.

Let’s just follow up on the occipital nerve stimulator for now.  The occipital nerve originates between the second and third cervical vertebrae of the neck.  An Awesome Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustment can restore proper alignment of the neck vertebra and allow the occipital nerve to do it’s job.

The Trigeminal Nerve carries most of the sensory input from the face.  All sensory fibers from the face terminate in the trigeminal nucleus.  The trigeminal nucleus extends from the midbrain to the medulla and into the cervical spine.  Here is where a specific upper cervical adjustment can relieve torque or pressure on the main nucleus for facial pain.

The spinal trigeminal nucleus represents pain and temperature sensation from the face.  Remember the hot poker symptom?  Alignment of the upper neck is vital for proper function of this nucleus.  Any twisting of the nucleus or pressure on the nucleus from a mis-aligned vertebra can be detrimental.

I know it took a long time to get to the conclusion:  an Awesome Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustment has a significant affect on cluster headaches.  But, we had to walk down a slow path in order to show you how specific upper cervical care could benefit someone who suffers from cluster headaches.

Yes, this might have been confusing. The simple truth in the matter is… you won’t know if an Awesome Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustment will help you unless you call our office today (810) 225-7246.  All you have to lose is your problem.

For those of you out of state, call our office and We will do our best to help you find an upper cervical chiropractor in your area.