A pain in the neck

Do you suffer recurrent headaches?  Headaches are humanities most common pain.  For 20 per cent of the population headaches are chronic or recurrent.  To someone who doesn’t have such a problem, the pain of headache may seem trivial, not worthy of serious consideration.  There are many types of headaches with many different causes.  According to Dr. Alan Rapaport and Dr. Fred Sheftell, founders of the New England Center for Headache, many headaches are the result of biochemical processes in the brain.


They say headaches are a medical disorder as genuine as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.  Unfortunately, headache causes don’t show up in blood tests or any common medical procedure.  And unlike the pain of ulcers or colitis, headache pain has no easily visible source.


Surprisingly, a headache is not a brain ache —the brain cannot feel pain.  It’s the pain sensitive structures of the head that are the culprits. These are arteries of the brain and skull; the veins; membranes covering the brain, and cranial nerves in the head.  When these are infected, pulled, inflamed, stretched, compressed or irritated, headaches may result.


As for the structural causes of headaches versus the biochemical causes, a team of doctors at Syracuse University has established with, anatomical proof that damaged structures in the neck may be the source of pain for many chronic headache suffers.


The key to the problem is the trigeminal nerve, a cranial nerve in the head.  It is a very large nerve, which runs through the brain and has parts that run up either side of the head.  One part of the nerve descends into the upper levels of the spinal cord in the neck.  This can be pinched by problems with the bones in the neck.  The important point to remember is, that headaches have many causes and if you suffer from  more than an occasional headache check with a doctor since there may be help for you.

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