New research further confirms the role that the upper cervical spine (and it’s relationship with the nervous system via the meninges) has in causing tension and headaches when subluxations are present. The research deals with the fact that a muscle in the area between the posterior of the second vertebra and the base of your skull actually has an attachment to the dura mater of the meninges (in a large majority of people, research shows). This muscle, the rectus capitis posterior and the other suboccipital muscles, are under major physical stress when someone has forward head posture.
As all chiropractors learn very early on, forward head posture is practically an epidemic due to the significant amount of time modern man (and woman!) spends seated or otherwise hunched forward, as opposed to standing erect and tall. Many patients, especially those with marked forward head posture, experience tension headaches or referred pain from the suboccipital area.
Here’s a large illustration from Gray’s Anatomy showing the region we are talking about:
For reference, that area shown in the illustration (click on it for full size) is only an inch or so from the spine of the axis (labelled) to the top of the image. Also note the ear for perspective.
When the meninges is pulled into a distortion of it’s normal shape this is known to put stress on nerve roots exiting through the intervertebral foramina of the neck and even upper back. The tight muscles tug upwards on the meninges, and this creates an upward tugging on the nerve root as it passes through the tightly packed foramen. Any insult to the nerve root in the foramen causes an abberation of nerve signal in and out of that nerve root. This can cause numbness or tingling, or even pain, in the shoulders and arms. This subluxation and it’s effect on your nervous system, as well as the overloading of your muscles due to the postural imbalance of forward head posture, cause the muscles of the upper back and shoulders to feel strained. The entire cervical and brachial plexus are both under possible physical stress when this is occurring.
If you think this article might describe your headaches and your neck, then call the office or stop by during business hours. Call (301) 378-0334 today to make your appointment or for a free consult at Park Bench Chiropractic in Frederick!