Common Causes of Head & Neck Pain
What is it? Migraines previously were thought to be a result of abnormal dilation of blood vessels in the brain, but scientists now believe that the cause may be more complex, and involve inherited differences in brain chemistry. A migraine is a headache with throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. The pain is often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last from four hours to three days if untreated.
Statistics: More than one in 10 Americans, including one in 6 women, have migraines, but many have been told mistakenly that they have a sinus or tension headache. Foods, stress, and hormones can be migraine triggers.
Nearly 30 million Americans get migraines, which can range mild to severe headaches.
Important Facts: When migraine duration is longer than three or four days, it’s called status migrainous and requires immediate medical attention because it increases your risk of stroke.
Treatment Duration: In the older days before the ‘90’s and the advent of the triptans, people were basically treating migraines by putting patients to sleep. What made sumatriptan or Imitrex the first revolutionary treatment was it was the first time we could treat acute migraine and restore people to normal function.
Migraine duration usually depends on what type of migraine you have and how you treat your migraine symptoms. These tips can help cut migraine length — and the length of time you’re in pain.
Migraine length varies. The National Headache Foundation says most migraines last 4 to 72 hours.
Do’s/Don’ts: Don’t get overly tire. Don’t miss meals. Avoid smoking. Avoid consuming certain food and drink like red wine, aged cheese, chocolate, soy sauce, and processed meats
Common Myths: There is a substantial “placebo effect” in the treatment of migraines and tension headaches, a new research analysis shows. Placebo treatments or no treatment appeared to work just as well as drugs in a large percentage of headache patients participating in more than 100 studies.
What Is a Stroke? Stroke is a medical emergency and the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or, more commonly, when a blockage develops. Without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die. The result can be serious disability or death. If a loved one is having stroke symptoms, seek emergency medical attention without delay.
Ischemic Stroke — The most common type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke. Nearly nine out of 10 strokes fall into this category. The culprit is a blood clot that obstructs a blood vessel inside the brain. The clot may develop on the spot or travel through the blood from elsewhere in the body.
Mini-Stroke’ (TIA) — A transient ischemic attack, often called a “mini-stroke,” is more like a close call. Blood flow is temporarily impaired to part of the brain, causing symptoms similar to an actual stroke. When the blood flows again, the symptoms disappear. A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may happen soon. It’s critical to see your doctor if you think you’ve had a TIA. There are therapies to reduce the risk of stroke.
Statistics: Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.; each year more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke.
A new study shows that despite the fact that men tend to have strokes at an earlier age than women, they face an 8% higher risk of death and 90% higher risk of developing pneumonia as a complication of a stroke.
Important Facts: A common cause of stroke is atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries. Plaque made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances builds up in the arteries, leaving less space for blood to flow.
Treatment: For an ischemic stroke, emergency treatment focuses on medicine to restore blood flow. A clot-busting medication is highly effective at dissolving clots and minimizing long-term damage, but it must be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Hemorrhagic strokes are more difficult to manage. Treatment usually involves attempting to control high blood pressure, bleeding, and brain swelling.
Stroke Costs Reaching Trillions –The financial cost of strokes in the U.S. will soar to more than $2.2 trillion over the next 45 years if no action is taken to improve preventive care or treatment, according to a new study.
Do’s/Don’ts: Act Fast to Stop Stroke’s Brain Damage — Doctors have long urged people to get medical help at the first sign of a possible stroke. Now, a new study highlights what happens to brain cells, or neurons, when stroke treatment is delayed. “Every minute you wait, hoping your symptoms will go away, you lose almost two million brain cells,” Jeffrey Saver, MD, says in a news release.
Neck Cracking Raises Stroke Risk — If you’ve got a pain in the neck, think twice about getting your neck cracked. Spinal manipulative therapy, as chiropractors call it, increases your risk of stroke.
Common Myths: Many Strokes Occur in Sleep, Preventing Treatment — Many people who suffer strokes have them while they are asleep, which may prevent them from getting clot-busting treatment in the critical first few hours after a stroke, a study shows.
Movement Disorders (Parkinson’s, Cerebellar atrophy, etc.)
What is Parkinsons? Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes a gradual loss of muscle control. The symptoms of Parkinson’s tend to be mild at first and can sometimes be overlooked. Distinctive signs of the disease include tremors, stiffness, slowed body movements, and poor balance. Parkinson’s was originally called a “shaking palsy,” but not everyone with Parkinson’s has a tremor.
Important Facts: No one knows for sure what makes these nerve cells break down. But scientists are doing a lot of research to look for the answer. They are studying many possible causes, including aging and poisons in the environment.
The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are: tremor, stiff muscles, slow movement, and problems with balance or walking.
Statistics: It affects 1 in 100 the age of 60. The average age of onset is 60 years of age. 15% are diagnosed before the age of 50. There are slightly more men than women affected with Parkinsons.
While Parkinson’s can be a frightening diagnosis, life expectancy is about the same as for people without the disease. For some people symptoms evolve slowly over 20 years. Early treatment can provide years that are virtually symptom-free. About 5% to 10% of cases occur before age 50.
Do’s/Don’ts: Berries May Contain Potent Weapon vs. Parkinson’s — Men and women who ate berries two or more times a week were nearly 25% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than their counterparts who had less than one serving per month.
Iron May Increase Risk of Parkinson’s — With apologies to Popeye, there may be a downside to eating too much spinach. New research suggests that people who have high amounts of iron in their diets may be at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Common Myths: Nicotine Improves Some Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease — It’s the drug that hooks cigarette smokers, sending many of them to an early grave. But it may actually help patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Tourette’s syndrome, and several other neurological disorders.
What Is it? Bell’s palsy, named for British physician Dr. Charles Bell, was first described in 1821. It is a sudden onset (usually over the course of 1-3 days, often overnight) of one-sided flaccid paralysis of the face. Flaccid paralysis means the muscles become hypotonic: soft and weak. This is a typical sign of peripheral motor nerve damage.
Statistics: Bell’s palsy affects about 30,000 – 40,000 people a year in the United States.
In the large majority of cases (80-85%), the facial weakness or paralysis is temporary. However, individuals who experience complete paralysis seem to have a poorer recovery rate with only 60% returning to normal.
Important Facts: The fact that Bell’s palsy is a diagnosis of exclusion becomes apparent in the course of the medical examination–the usual mode of examination is to rule out other disorders until only Bell’s palsy is left.
What doctors don’t tell you or maybe they don’t know is that 60% of Bell’s palsy patients actually have Lyme disease. The Bells Palsy effect is the Lyme moving into the Acute or Chronic stage. Many doctors especially out here on the West Coast don’t know much about Lyme or even give it merit. If you have Bell’s palsy you need to have a good Lyme test to rule it out, even then you may not have an accurate test.
Treatment Duration: Approximately 50% of Bell’s palsy cases clear up on their own within 1 month or less. For those individuals that do not find themselves so lucky, it’s important to begin a treatment regimen immediately to avoid potential long term nerve damage and prolonged facial paralysis. With so many treatment options currently available, it’s important to understand the positive and negative benefits of each and to choose the one that best suits you.
Often, no treatment is needed. Symptoms often begin to improve right away. However, it may take weeks or even months for the muscles to get stronger, and this may be frustrating.
Do’s/Don’ts: Many doctors prescribe an antiviral and/or a steroid for Bell’s palsy, but there is some controversy about whether these drugs actually help. If you have Bell’s palsy they may want to put you on anti-viral medications or steroids. One or both of these will contribute to a negative result for a Lyme test. Standard testing is not recommended. This means the testing that you get where the results come back in three days. You need extensive testing (a FULL PANEL test) test # 6040 from Igenex http://igenex.com 800.832.3200 you can have the test sent to you and Igenex will pay for the test to be sent back return shipping the cost is approx. $ 450.
Common Myths: There is a myth amongst people that Bell’s palsy is an after effect of heart attack or another condition related to heart which is not true. It is true that sometimes heart attack causes facial paralysis but here the reason is entirely different.
What is it? Vertigo is a condition in which you feel off-balance and dizzy, as if you or your surroundings are moving, spinning, or swaying. It can lead to nausea and disability. Vertigo is most common in elderly people, but it can affect both sexes at any age. It may be a temporary or permanent condition.
Statistics: Dizziness affects 30% of people over the age of 65. From 2001 – 2004 35.4% of U.S. adults aged 40 years or older (69 million Americans) had vestibular dysfunction. Patient care costs for falls are more than $8 billion per year. Almost eight million American adults report a chronic problem with balance, while an additional 2.4 million Americans report a chronic problem with dizziness alone.
Important Facts: The organ of balance is the vestibular system in the ear, a tiny grid of fluid-filled tubes and sacs. There are two identical vestibular systems, located in the labyrinth of each inner ear. As you move, the liquid in the tubes also moves about, and its levels are read by nerve cells. The information is sent to the brain, which uses it to calculate which way is down and what should be the horizontal level.
Any problems with balance originate in the vestibular system, so people who suffer from frequent vertigo are said to have a vestibular disorder. Balance problems may be associated with a ringing in the ears or loss of hearing. Vertigo can also be caused by changes in the parts of the brain (cerebellum and brain stem) that are also involved in controlling balance.
Treatment Duration: Your doctor may begin treatment by prescribing bed rest; medications that suppress the activity of the inner ear, such as meclizine (Antivert, Bonine and other brand names), dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or promethazine (Phenergan); anticholinergic medication such as scopolamine (Transderm-Sco); or a tranquilizer, such as diazepam (Valium). Depending on the cause and duration of the vertigo, additional advice will be offered. For persistent benign positional vertigo, you may be given specific exercises to help reduce the symptoms.
Do’s/Don’ts: Get up slowly from your bed or chair. Sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before standing. Sit up or stand up slowly to avoid sudden changes in blood flow to your head that can make you feel lightheaded.
Common Myths: Myth: I’m so dizzy; I must have had a stroke. Truth: There are many causes of dizziness, and not all are life-threatening. Benign positional vertigo (BPV) is the most common cause of dizziness. It is caused when the tiny crystals in your inner ear – those responsible for balance – break free and float around in the inner ear fluids. When the head moves in certain positions, these floaters tickle the balance cells, causing transient vertigo.
Vertigo is all in your head because you have an overactive imagination. In fact, vertigo is all in your head; however, probably not because of your imagination. The symptoms of dizziness and unsteady movement are quite real. Whether it is BPPV (brain) or Meniere’s (inner ear), the vertigo is spiraling from the area above the neck.
What is it? Whiplash is a neck injury that can occur during rear-end automobile collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward — similar to the motion of someone cracking a whip. These extreme motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. The most frequent cause of whiplash is a car accident. The speed of the cars involved in the accident or the amount of physical damage to the car may not relate to the intensity of neck injury; speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can produce enough energy to cause whiplash in occupants, whether or not they wear seat belts.
Statistics: whiplash symptoms last more than 6 months in 75% of patients. whiplash victims lose an average of 8 weeks of work. Whiplash is 5 times more common in women than in men. Whiplash occurs most commonly in those aged 30 to 50 years.
Neck injuries cost at least $7 billion per year in insurance claims, according to the IIHS.
#1. The “Threshold” for cervical spine soft tissue injury of a motor vehicle becomes a reality at 5 MPH.
#2. Most injuries occur at speeds below 12 MPH.
#3. Crashed vehicles can often withstand collision speeds of 10 MPH (some even more) without sustaining damage. (THUS: The concept of “No Property Damage – No Cash” has absolutely been invalidated)!
Treatment Duration: Studies have proven that 45% of the victims remained symptomatic at 12 weeks and 25% remained symptomatic at 6 months. Even the most minor cases needed at least 8 weeks to recover. The time needed to stabilize in the more severe cases took 17 weeks. THUS: The written (and often declared) notion that “Whiplash Injuries Heal In 6 To 8 Weeks” is just not true !
Most people recover completely from a whiplash injury in the first six weeks. Others’ symptoms continue to improve over the course of a year. There is a 40% chance of experiencing some symptoms after three months, and an 18% chance after two years. No reliable way exists to predict the prognosis.
Do’s/Don’ts: Try over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. For at least 2 to 3 weeks, avoid activities that bring on or worsen your pain and stiffness. Don’t lift or carry anything heavy or participate in sports. Do not sit, especially at a desk, for long periods of time. If possible, stay active by taking short walks.
Common Myths: Children who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents are often neglected as having had “Any various types of injury“, when in actuality, they suffer from the same symptoms as adults. As a matter of fact, they’re at a greater risk for damages – – especially when it comes to “WHIPLASH”!
What is it? Arthritis in the neck is a wear-and-tear neck condition resulting from years of minor trauma to the cervical spine and its structures. The severity of the ‘wear’ varies between individuals, but is almost always worse in those who have worked in a physically demanding occupation for many years, such as construction.
Statistics: According to the Arthritis Foundation in 2007: 2/3rds of people who have been diagnosed with the disease are under 65.As long ago as 2003 9,500 Americans DIED because of arthritis. Almost 19 million Americans have to stop working within 10 years of being diagnosed. A shocking 294,000 children have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. The cost of all this is 8 billion per year
Important Facts: In fact, arthritis is the number one cause of disability.
The most common type of arthritis that affects the neck is osteoarthritis. This condition is also known as cervical spondylosis, cervical osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease of the neck.
Pain is not always limited to the neck area; it can spread to areas such as the upper back, shoulder blades, chest wall, arms, and the head. Patients with cervical arthritis may also experience neurological signs.
Treatment Duration: There are a multitude of treatment modalities ranging from rest to surgery depending on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause that is identified. A majority of cases cervical arthritis respond to exercises.
Do’s/Don’ts: To reduce arthritis neck pain the first thing you can do is stop doing nothing and do something. However, you can’t just do whatever you want either. There are specific exercises or physical therapies that help get range of motion back and relieve stiffness and pain. Make an appointment with a physical therapist and learn how to do the exercises properly then do them at home as the therapist specifies.
Use hydrotherapy, which is a combination of water, heat and air. It’s amazing what a good hot tub will do to relieve arthritis neck pain. The water reduces body weight to almost nothing taking off pressure and the action of the air and water work together to massage it.
Common Myths: Medical research conducted in the past few decades also indicate, that people who are on an unceasing spree of cracking neck, are at a greater risk of suffering a stroke, showcasing either transient ischemic attack (TIA) symptoms or those of a fatal one. This is primarily due to the fact that constant cracking neck tendencies lead to the wear and tear of the arteries that pass through the neck to the brain. Due this corrosion, the lining of the artery starts to bleed internally, amounting to fatal blood clotting and thus, leading to a stroke among people below the age barrier of 55.
So, is cracking neck safe? Evidently no!