Long standing recurrent headache
So I had an interesting case in last week when a client of mine presented with headaches into the side of her head and around the right eye. It’s really important with all clients but especially ones with recurring headaches to know from their past history if they have had a previous concussion, trauma to the head or possibly some form of whiplash.
You may well know that the top of our neck and the nerves in this area have a direct correlation with the skull so it can be a common site where headaches stem from and not one week goes where I treat this area with good outcomes.
What is less common with headaches that don’t respond to treatment to the neck, are headaches that can stem from something called our cranial sutures.
Headaches from cranial sutures
When we are babies, these sutures are very cartilaginous which you would want them to be, especially as we worked our way through the birth canal. As we get older though these sutures start to ossify but still retain the ability to move.
When speaking about previous traumas with my client, she explained that she had multiples impact injuries to her head, one of which was standing up really quickly and catching her head on the side of a cabinet door.
As as with all my clients once we have gone through an assessment where I check range of motion, I moved on to test the reflexes of the muscles in her neck to see if they did one of three things:
1: tested weak (abnormal)
2: tested strong but could weaken with when we stimulated the muscle in a certain way (normal)
3: tested strong but could not weaken which we term a hypertonic muscle (abnormal)
From the information we gathered some of her muscles on the right side of her neck and some of the front of the neck tested weak from the get go which you can see is an abnormal response. The next question is why was her nervous system choosing to “switch off” these muscles and one of the main reasons is that it’s a protective response to old injuries. Unfortunately, though once the injury heals the nerve receptors at the injury site do not reset themselves so feed back abnormal information to the brain that there is still a problem.
Ultimately this leads us to compensate for the problem over many months and years. The result is our brain alters the reflexes to our muscles and the outcome is usually a weak of hypertonic muscle. It’s purely protective as it still thinks there is a problem.
What we found on this client is that she had a very sensitised stretch receptor called a “golgi” in her sagittal suture at the top of her skull which when we treated restored the normal reflexes in the muscles which tested weak. This was most probably from the old trauma to her head and these stretch receptors never reset themselves.
It was lovely to see that a client who walked in with a headache walked out with no headache at all!
So if you have had long standing recurrent headaches that have had not responded to medication of some form or manual therapy, then lets explore your history, test the muscles and see if you have a cranial suture dysfunction.
Please get in touch to book an appointment or find out more about this approach