The Back Pain Clinic Belleville has dedicated this month to information about the range of spinal cord diseases and disorders, so that you can recognize when it’s time to see chiropractic help.  Today’s topic is all too common – by headache standards – and starts when you least expect it.

Sleep is nature’s way of restoring function and strength to the body and mind.  Doctors recommend a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night to optimize the effects of this therapeutic and necessary practice.  While this is a hard task for some, we all generally fall asleep with ease at some point during the night.  But let’s not focus on when or where you sleep, but how.

The long-debated topic of the “perfect sleep position” typically only comes up on two occasions: marriage and pregnancy. However, there is a third scenario that has nothing to do with modifications due to “sharing” your bed, but just plain “sleeping wrong.”

You wake up with a sharp pain in your neck, or from your neck, that radiates to your shoulder, It generally goes away over time.  Or so you think.  That pain hasn’t gone away, but instead transformed into a persistent, sharp headache.  This is called a cervicogenic headache caused by referred neck pain. The pain from this type of headache is usually felt at the back of the head, in the temples, and/or behind the eyes. A cervicogenic headache may be mistaken for migraines or cluster headaches.

But the good news is chiropractic manipulation can help.

A recent study has suggested  that chiropractic treatments can decrease the frequency,  length and number of headaches, ultimately affecting the number of painkillers needed for relief. Dr. Niels Nilsson of Odense University in Odense, Denmark, and Dr. Geoffrey Bove of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, have studied the impact of chiropractic treatment on headaches. They have found that chiropractic treatment can work, but accurate diagnosis of the headache is key to efficacy.

Dr. Nilsson says, “My 1997 study showed that a group of cervicogenic headache patients who received spinal manipulation and soft tissue therapy did significantly better than a similar group which received only soft tissue therapy. Spinal manipulation in itself has a significant effect on cervicogenic headaches.”