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Headache Trigger Points and Bio-Chiropractic Treatment

Headache Trigger Points and Bio-Chiropractic Treatment

Individuals that experience frequent headaches can have sensitive headache trigger points. Every case is different and requires a thorough examination before a proper and personalized chiropractic treatment plan can begin. Headaches can be brought on from a variety of causes. This could be:

  • Drug reactions
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Tightness in the neck muscles
  • Low blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Fatigue

The majority of recurrent headaches fall into three types:

  • Tension headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Cluster headaches, which are related to migraines.

Headache Trigger Points and Bio-Chiropractic Treatment


Tension headaches are the most common and affect around 77% of individuals experiencing chronic headaches. Most individuals describe a tension headache as a consistent dull ache on one side of the head and sometimes both sides. They are often described as having a tight band/belt around the head or behind the eyes. These headaches usually start slowly, gradually and can last for a few minutes or days. They tend to start in the middle of the day or before the end of the day.

These headaches can be the result of stress and/or poor posture. The most common cause is subluxations in the upper back and neck, usually combined with active headache trigger points. This stresses the spinal muscles in the upper back and neck. A tension headache or stress headache can last 30 minutes to a few days. Chronic tension headaches can last for months. The pain can be severe; however, these headaches are typically not associated with symptoms like throbbing, nausea, or vomiting.

If the top cervical vertebrae shift out of their position and lose their normal motion, a small muscle called the rectus capitis posterior minor/RCPM begins to spasm. This small muscle has a tendon that slips between the upper neck and the base of the skull. It attaches to a thin, sensitive tissue called the dura mater that covers the brain. The dura mater is very pain-sensitive. When the RCPM muscle goes into spasm, the tendon pulls the dura mater causing a headache. Individuals that work at a desk station for long hours tend to experience headaches from this cause. Another cause comes from referred pain caused by headache trigger points in the Sternocleidomastoid/SCM or levator muscle on the side of the neck. This cause tends to happen more to individuals that have suffered a whiplash injury with muscle damage in the neck region.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last for a few hours to a few days. Many experience visual symptoms known as an aura just before they come on. This is described as seeing flashing lights or when things take on a dream-like appearance. However, even in individuals that don’t experience the aura, most can tell that a migraine is getting ready to present. Individuals usually have their first attack before age 30. They tend to run in families supporting a genetic component. Some have attacks several times a month, while others can have less than one a year. Most individuals find that migraines happen less and become less severe as they get older.

These headaches are caused by the constriction of blood vessels in the brain. During the constriction period, there is a decrease in blood circulation. This is followed by dilation/enlargening of the blood vessels. This is what leads to the visual symptoms. Then the blood vessels dilate, generating a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. This increased pressure is what leads to a pounding headache. Every time the heart beats, it sends another shock wave through the carotid arteries in the neck into the brain. There are different theories as to why the blood vessels constrict, but they are still unknown. What is known is that several factors can trigger a migraine. This includes:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Flickering lights
  • Strong smells
  • Changing weather
  • Foods that are high in an amino acid known as tyramine


Cluster headaches are very short excruciating headaches. They are usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. These headaches affect about 1 million individuals and are more common in men. This type of headache tends to happen at night. They are called cluster headaches because they tend to happen one to four times a day over several days. After one cluster is over, it could be months or even years before they present again. Like migraines, cluster headaches cause the dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, increasing the pressure.

Trigger Points

Headache trigger point therapy involves four muscles. These are the:

The Splenius muscles involve two individual muscles, the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. These muscles run along the upper back to the skull base or the upper cervical/neck vertebrae. Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common contributor to pain that travels through the head to the back of the eye and top of the head.

The Suboccipitals are a group of four small muscles that maintain proper movement and positioning between the first cervical vertebra and the skull base. Trigger points in these muscles can cause pain that feels like it’s happening inside the head, from the back to the eye and forehead. Individuals report that the whole side of the head hurts. This is a pain pattern similar to a migraine.

The Sternocleidomastoid muscle runs along the base of the skull, behind the ear, down the side of the neck. It attaches to the top of the sternum/breastbone. Although most are not aware of this muscle’s trigger points, the effects are evident. This includes:

  • Referred pain
  • Balance issues
  • Visual symptoms

Referred pain tends to be eye pain, headaches over the eye, and can even cause earaches. An unusual characteristic of SCM headache trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea, and balance problems.

The trapezius muscle is the large, flat muscle in the upper and middle back. Pain can be felt in the temple and back of the head. A common trigger point is located at the top of the muscle. This particular point can activate secondary trigger points in the temple or jaw muscles, leading to jaw or tooth pain.

Headache Triggers

  • Stress can be a trigger.
  • Depression, anxiety, frustration, and even pleasant excitement can be associated with headache development.
  • A headache diary can help determine whether factors like food, weather, and/or mood correlate with headache patterns.
  • Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull headache accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite dilates blood vessels and is found in products like heart medications, and is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Processed meats containing sodium nitrite can contribute to headaches.
  • Foods prepared with monosodium glutamate or MSG can result in headaches. Soy sauce, meat tenderizers, and various packaged foods contain this chemical as a flavor enhancer.
  • Exposure to poisons, even household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead, can contribute.
  • Contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
  • Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should be avoided. This could be ripened cheeses like cheddar, brie, chocolate, and pickled or fermented food.


Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective for treating tension headaches, especially those that originate in the neck. Research has found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement and had fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief than taking common medications. There is a significant improvement by manipulating the upper two cervical vertebrae, combined with adjustments to the area between the cervical and thoracic spine.

Body Composition Testing

Vibration Exercise

Vibration exercise is believed to stimulate the muscle fibers without going to a gym or stressing the bones. One study broke up postmenopausal women into three groups: resistance training, vibration training combined with resistance training, or no exercise/training. Their body composition was measured before starting the study. After the study was completed, the findings included:

  • Both the resistance group and the resistance group with vibration training increased lean tissue mass.
  • The control group did not show an increase in lean tissue and, in fact, gained body fat.
  • The combination group, using vibration training with resistance training, showed a drop in body fat.

Another study placed male athletes in a training program that included vibration training. The first group had lower-limb strength training combined with vibration training, and the other had lower-limb strength training without vibration training. The researchers found that the athletes in the vibration training group improved leg extension strength by five percent. In addition, the vibration training groups balancing ability and vertical lift/jumping test improved as well.


Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008

Chaibi, Aleksander et al. “Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial.” BMC research notes vol. 10,1 310. 24 Jul. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4

Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014; 37: 42-63.

Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011; 34: 274-89.

Ergonomic Computer Use for Children El Paso, TX.

Ergonomic Computer Use for Children El Paso, TX.

As you teach healthy ergonomics, remember these neutral posture guidelines apply to children but can also benefit adults.�The main focus is to always work in a neutral posture. Following these guidelines will ensure your child uses a computer in a comfortable and ergonomically correct fashion.


11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 126 Ergonomic Computer Use for Children El Paso, TX.

Neutral Posture

  • Healthy upper body posture means the shoulders are back, relaxed and not slumped/slumping forward over the keyboard.
  • The back/spine should be at a 90� degree angle supported by a chair with proper back support.
  • The knees�should not compress the chair seat. If they do adjust the seat to go back enough for the knees to be free.
  • The knees should be at a 90� degree angle behind the knees and should be open.
  • Don’t sit with legs and feet tucked under the chair.
  • The feet should be firmly flat on a stable surface ensuring proper support on the floor or a footrest.
  • The head should stay balanced and not tilted back or too far forward.
  • The upper arms should be close to the body and relaxed.
  • The elbows should be at a 90� degree angle and the forearm horizontal.
  • The wrist should remain in a neutral position.

Let your child use the computer for a little while then adjust their posture and the workstation if needed, so they are working in the most neutral posture. Find ways to help them remind themselves of their posture and to take frequent breaks to stretch out and move around.


Create/Organize a Normal Workstation

  • The work area should be a space that is easily accessible by a child while they can sit comfortably/properly without having to bend awkwardly or overly twist to reach for something.
  • Keep the items that are used the most�while working at the computer within arms reach.
  • If your child needs to type and use a text document or book for reference, make sure there is a document holder/stand that is next or as near to the screen as possible so that they don’t have to turn or twist their head over and over or in a strenuous fashion. You want them to use their eyes with minimal head movement other than to look away for an eye break, a quick neck stretch and repositioning to stay comfortable.

Check the Screen Position

  • The computer screen should be positioned to be able to comfortably view the screen without having to tilt their neck backward or forwards.
  • Too high, the child’s neck will tilt back, and too low means it will be bent forward.
  • Adjust the height and angle to avoid these incorrect postures.

ergonomics correct sitting posture

Workstation Equipment

Ergonomic furniture and equipment can help create a comfortable and adjustable workstation for your child as they grow.

  • An ergonomic chair with height adjustment, adjustable/comfortable seat and proper lumbar back support.
  • Make sure they work on a stable and sturdy desk with a flat work surface so that your child works in a neutral posture.
  • An ergonomically tilted keyboard system or a height-adjustable keyboard and mouse platform can help keep the forearms and wrists in a neutral posture.
  • The fit of the keyboard and mouse should be comfortable in your child’s hands.
  • If they have small hands, then consider a smaller keyboard and mouse if necessary.

Screen Glare

  • Check the computer screen for glare areas/bright spots. This could affect the eyes and cause the child to start moving their head/neck around too much and in the wrong way that would create a crick or strain.
  • Adjust/reposition the screen to get the correct angle for the proper posture or adjust the room’s lighting.
  • Proper lighting is a must for reading and protecting the eyes.
  • Make sure they take frequent eye breaks and look away at something other than a screen like a piece of furniture or out a window and that is farther away to readjust the eyes.

Computer Time Management

  • Posture problems associated with computer use vary on the length of time that your child uses the computer, takes rest breaks and does other tasks/chores to keep them moving/stretching out and not staying seated or in one position for too long.
  • Regulating computer time use is important and can be done just watching the clock and saying when is when or use an app to set the time on and off. These apps give screen alerts and tell when to take a break and provide simple stretching exercises.


As part of our Acute Injury Treatment & Rehabilitation Practice, we are presently offering detailed�Institute For Functional Medicine��Collaborative Assessment Programs focused on Integrative Treatment Protocols. We completely evaluate personal history, current nutrition, activity behaviors, environmental exposures to toxic elements, psychological and emotional factors, in tandem with your genetics.

Our purpose with these high-level assessments is to understand the root cause of chronic disorders and to treat the person holistically.� Integrative Personalized Medicine is the future of healthcare and we are very proud to bring it to all our patients.� Our online�Functional Medicine Health Assessment Questionnaire has given insights into our patients’ present Functional Health.


Correct your Bad Posture with *FOOT ORTHOTICS* | El Paso, Tx



NCBI Resources

Because we spend so much time�in a chair we need to have the right one that will protect our spines.�Think of the�chair as a piece of�work�equipment to optimize productivity.�Ergonomics utilized to the fullest means less back pain and better focus.