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What is Headache behind the Eyes?

Posted in Head Pain Disorders on Sep 10, 2019

Can upper cervical adjustments help headache behind the eyes?

What if a headache behind the eyes has nothing to do with needing new glasses?

Are you trying to figure out what is causing your headache behind the eyes?

It’s not exactly something that is easy find because, as you know, there is not such thing as a “headache behind the eyes specialist.” And it isn’t something that has a fancy name either like a cluster migraine or trigeminal neuralgia either.

The thing about it is that the name isn’t always that important … it’s the CAUSE that matters most.

Sure, you can always take medication … but is that what you really want to keep doing? Because if you are experiencing headache behind the eyes, it could be a sign that there is something more serious going on.

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In fact, there is no such thing as a normal headache! I am always baffled why people are so quick to take medication or just deal with “normal headaches.”

A headache is a sign that something is not right with your head, brain or nervous system! Why would you ever just want to cover up the symptoms?

So if you are looking for a natural solution and natural relief for a headache behind the eyes, here is where we may be able to help you with a unique method of healthcare called an atlas alignment.

 

 

How to “read" common headache behind the eyes pain

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First - and without further ado - what is the cause of a headache behind the eyes? There are three possibilities.

The first is the one you have probably heard about before: your sinuses. Someone told you that a virus or allergies irritates the lining of your sinuses and can give you a headache behind the eyes. If your headache behind the eyes is seasonal, this might make sense. However if you experience a headache behind the eyes all of the time, there may be more going on than meets the eye. A sinus headache behind the eyes may also be related to irritation of the sympathetic root of the ciliary ganglion … but I will explain more about that that is later in this article. For now, let’s just go with plausible explanation #1: your sinuses.

The second possible reason is irritation of the C1 spinal nerve rootThe C1 spinal nerve is the first nerve from your spinal cord that exits just below the base of your skull. Only about 25% of the population have a sensory division of this particular nerve, which means that 75% of people can have a problem with the C1 nerve root but actually feel no pain at all. For those who do have a C1 sensory nerve, it is believed that there is a pure patch where the nerve can refer pain - you guessed it - right behind the eyes! So, a headache behind the eyes may have everything to do with the C1 spinal nerve.

There is a third possible explanation. It is that a headache behind the eyes is produced by spasm a muscle known as the sphenomandibularis . The sphenomandibularis is a relatively unknown muscle that is involved with chewing. It connects your jaw to the back portion of your eye socket. Therefore, tightness of the muscle may produce a headache behind the eyes. If so, the next logical question is, “Why would the muscle spams in the fist place?” I will mention it later in this article, but the C2 vertebra in your neck has a profound impact on you jaw muscles. Therefore, a problem with the C2 vertebra that affect the nerve centres that control the sphenomandibularis may produce a headache behind the eyes.

 

 

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What is the cause of a headache behind the eyes

Among these three possibilities, I think that you will see that there is a common underlying factor: your upper neck. The two bones of the upper neck are the the C1 (Atlas Vertebra) and the C2 (Axis Vertebra).

The atlas and axis provide for about 50% of the total ability for you to move your head. Because of their overall flexibility of this area, it is susceptible to injury. Not necessarily dislocation, but a shifting or misalignment that causes the vertebrae to get locked out of normal position. If this happens, the vertebra can produce irritation of the local tissues … including the specific nerves that supply the head, face and brain.

So, a headache behind the eyes might very well be caused by a problem with the alignment of the bones in the top of your neck.

I already mentioned the C1 spinal nerve root. Let me round back to how C2 can affect a headache behind the eyes. The C2 vertebra is responsible for the turning action of the head. It is also aligned through a series of ligaments with the structure of your jaw or TMJ. If the C2 vertebra in particular is affected because of a misalignment, it can irritate the nerves that supply the TMJ, which causes the chewing muscles to tighten. This tightening can often produce a temporal headache (i.e., headache on the sides of the temples), but also that headache behind the eyes if the sphenomandibularis muscle is involved.

I don’t want to forget about the sinus issues either though. Every blood vessel and every lymph channel in your body is controlled by a division of your autonomic nervous system called your sympathetic nerves. The sympathetic nerves that supply the lining of your sinuses - and all the blood vessels in your brain! - enter the skull directly in front of the C1 and C2 vertebrae.

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Therefore, if a misalignment of C1 or C2 affects these sympathetic nerves when they so happen to travel directly to the area behind your eye socket, this local irritation or inflammation may also produce a headache behind the eyes!

 

 

What to do about headache behind the eyes problems

I’m sure that you can appreciate now that when we’re talking about a headache behind the eyes, we aren’t simply talking about pain. We are talking about something that is affecting the electrical wiring that controls your brain and your entire body!

Not something you want to treat lightly! Nor something where you just want to treat the effects. 

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If you are the kind of person who believes it is more important to correct the cause than it is to treat the symptoms, then the only logical thing to do is to look at the alignment of the bones in the top of your neck: the C1 and the C2.

Here is where unique method of healthcare may be able to help: it is called Blair upper cervical chiropractic. Upper cervical care is a different approach to chiropractic that was developed in the USA and that involves advanced certification. In fact, our not only among North Lakes chiropractors - not only among Brisbane chiropractors - but among all chiropractors in Australia we are the only clinic to hold full advanced certification in the Blair upper cervical procedure.

So how is this approach different from general chiropractic or physiotherapy? First, the adjustment

does not involve any spinal manipulation. There is no twisting or cracking the neck. The procedure is also different because we are doing more than just working on the muscles. Remember that muscles only ever do what nerves tell them to do.

Therefore, if you have a misalignment of the C1 or the C2 vertebra that is affecting the nerves, the nerves and the muscles will not be able to relax until the vertebrae are properly re-aligned.

 

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Most common reasons adults have headache behind the eyes problems

Often, a headache behind the eyes is simply attributed to sinuses or allergies or stress. However, if that was the case, then everyone who has stress or allergies would have headaches behind the eyes. So there must be something else going on that is affecting the atlas or the axis alignment.

 

The reason that the C1 or C2 vertebrae can misalign in the first place is because of some type of physical injury. It doesn’t have to be something that causes bleeding, broken bones or even bruising either! 

Remember that the C1 and the C2 are the most flexible vertebrae in your spine. The trade is the they are also the ones most likely to be injured from any type of injury that affects your head or your neck:

  • A car accident (even a very minor one)
  • A sports take (even when you were a teenager)
  • A slip on the kerb or on a couple of stair
  • A fall on your tailbone (because it causes a ripple effect can cause a whiplash effect up your spine)

When you compound these injuries over months or even years without getting the right treatment, the problems can slowly add up. Then, when you do the repetitive tasks of daily life like sitting in front of a computer, it will appear that the headaches behind the eyes are the result of stress … or getting older … or needing new glasses.

However, that may only be an illusion!

I am not trying to dismiss the significance of eye strain, which can also produce a headache behind the eyes. However, I want to emphasise the importance to considering the neck, which is also a very important key to finding a solution.

Most common reasons children have headache behind the eyes problems

Children are not immune from headaches behind the eyes either. Often, it is attributed to eye strain or needing glasses … but not always!

The nerve receptors in the neck also tie into the brain centres that are responsible for coordinating eye movements.

There was a time when my own eyes were getting blurrier, and I was experiencing a headache behind the eyes almost every day. When my own chiropractor made a change to the adjustment that we were doing for my upper neck, my eyes improved to the point that did not need to wear glasses any more!

I can testify first hand, plus I have seen it with many of our clients that eyesight and eye strain is less severe when we correct the alignment of the upper neck.

With kids especially, there is no such thing as a “normal headache.” And to treat the symptoms with glasses only might be missing a huge part of what is actually going on. In addition to computers, phones, school books, etc consider the types of injuries that kids experience that can injure the alignment of the upper neck:

  • Skateboarding 
  • Riding bicycles or horses
  • Soccer or football
  • Even “safe” sports like dancing, gymnastics and swimming can all injure the neck if you fall or bump your head just the wrong way,

It is not to suggest that all head or neck injuries cause misalignments with the atlas or axis … but all it takes is once, and unless the problem is addressed, it can grow up to become a more significant health problem down the track

 

 

Diagnostic for headache behind the eyes problems

When it comes to diagnosing a headache behind the eyes, there are two major points of entry that I recommend: an optometrist (second), but an upper cervical chiropractor first.

An upper cervical chiropractor is trained and skilled to look at the alignment of the upper neck in precise ways that may healthcare practitioners have not learned.

As a general rule, an upper cervical chiropractor will do three types of tests: physical, neurological and imaging.

The physical tests that we perform in our North Lakes chiropractor clinic involve detailed analyses of your posture. Your posture has nothing to do with laziness, but tells the story of the kind of injuries that you have experienced, and how we need to go about unwinding the problem to find a long-lasting solution for you. 

The neurological tests that we perform look at the function of your nervous system, and not simply how you feel. The majority of nerves in your body do not have any pain sensors. So if you do experience a headache behind the eyes, it is often only the tip of the iceberg. It is far better then that we have computerised tests that measure how well your body is working … because that is the key first to having a healthy body, and thus one that feels well.

The imaging tests that we perform are unique for you and involve a series of 3D x-rays. Your bone structure is like a fingerprint: unique for you and different from everyone else. We don’t take guessing games with your health, and so in order to provide the safest and most-effective-possible adjustment for you, we want to measure the alignment of your next to within 1/2 of a degree.

When we do so, we find that we don’t need to use near as much force with your neck re-alignment … nor do you need as much treatment! As I mentioned before, there is no twisting or cracking the neck with an upper cervical adjustment. The procedure that we use involves the amount of force your would use to feel your pulse, and is performed with your head in a neutral, comfortable position.

The more comfortable the procedure, the better we find it goes!

 

 

Upper cervical chiropractic treatment for headache behind the eyes problems

I hope you’ve found the information in this article not just interesting, but valuable. As I said in the beginning, there isn’t really such a thing as a “headache behind the eyes specialist.” Nevertheless, if you have googled, “headache behind the eyes treatment,” you may otherwise not really find much information about what is causing the pain or what to do about it.

So I trust that this article has answered those questions for you.

Now, if this information resonates with you - if it makes sense and if if feels right - then I’d like to take a moment formally to invite you to take the next step. Our practice - Atlas Health Brisbane chiropractic - is dedicated to helping people improve their quality of lives by providing this unique and powerful form of healthcare known as Atlas Alignment or upper cervical care.

We see people with a wide variety of conditions, commonly the “complicated” kind of stuff that other practitioners have not been able to solve. Now certainly, I am not going to pretend that I have all the answers. But i do know this: an atlas alignment is one of the most powerful forms of healthcare that I know. And when we can get the irritation or interference off of the nerves in your upper neck and your brainstem, you may be able to experience all kinds of health benefits … the resolution of headaches behind the eyes possibly being only the tip of the iceberg.

So if you would like to schedule a complementary call to speak with one of our upper cervical chiropractors about your condition and how we may be able to help, please send us an email or give us a call at out North Lakes chiropractic office at 07 3188 9329.

Take care of your neck and start living life again.

 

 

References

Chen SS, Zhang JM. Progress in Sympathetically Mediated Pathological Pain. J Anesth Perioper Med. 2015;2(4):216–225. doi:10.24015/JAPM.2015.0029. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5611864/

Edmonds J. The cervical spine and headache. Neurology, 1988;38(12):1874-8.

Gaul C, Meßlinger K, Holle-Lee D, Neeb L. [Pathophysiology of Headaches]. [Article in German]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2017 Mar;142(6):402-408. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-111694. Epub 2017 Mar 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28329901 

Hack GD, Dunn G, Toh MY. The anatomist’s new tools. In: 1998 Medical and Health Annual, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1997:16-29.

Kumagai H, Oshima N, Matsuura T, et al. Importance of rostral ventrolateral medulla neurons in determining efferent sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure. Hypertens Res. 2012 Feb;35(2):132-41. doi: 10.1038/hr.2011.208. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Luz LL, Fernandes EC, Dora F, et al. Trigeminal Aδ- and C-afferent supply of lamina I neurons in the trigeminocervical complex. Pain. 2019 Jul 11. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001659. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31356449

Millstine D, Chen CY, Bauer B. Complementary and integrative medicine in the management of headache. BMJ. 2017 May 16;357:j1805. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1805. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28512119

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