Life, Pain

Hit Me With Your Best Crack

Lower Back X-Ray
Pretty healthy looking “C”-shaped curve in my lower back.

As many of you know, I have suffered from debilitating chronic migraines for approximately 20 years.  I have tried everything from taking pills, to eliminating all sorts of food from my diet, to exercising more, to drinking enormous amounts of water, to journaling my daily activities and moods in search of triggers…  Unfortunately, nothing has worked and the migraines keep coming.

In my most recent migraine attack last week, I desperately started Yelping “migraine” on my phone in search of something, anything, that could bring me a little bit of relief.  A chiropractor’s name popped up on the list with multiple 5-star reviews from Yelpers who swore that their headaches were treated.  The reviewers also mentioned that in their first consultation, this specific chiropractor took x-rays to help them see all the misalignments.  Having always been curious about what my neck looked like at the deeper skeletal level, and also finding an x-ray coupon so I would know exactly how much my first visit would cost, I decided to schedule a visit to see this chiropractor.

Here’s what I learned:

Photo Credit: Life Chiropractic Centre

First, a little bit about what’s normal and what’s not.  As you can see in the left image of a Normal X-Ray, there is a “C”-shaped curve, similar to the “C”-shaped curve in my lower back x-ray at the start of this post.  The image on the right shows when the neck not only does not have a “C”-shape, but it is actually starting to curve in the opposite direction!

Take a look at my neck x-ray:

Neck X-Ray, Atlas Subluxation
My abnormal neck that lacks any “C”-shaped curve.

As you can see, my neck clearly fits the Abnormal category.  You can see a faint black line that my chiropractor drew on the x-ray to show where the normal “C”-shaped curve should be.  Instead, my neck sticks straight out (not even straight up!) and is starting to have that reverse curve which is no good!

What’s even more interesting about my x-ray is when you look closely at my C1, or Atlas, which is the first vertebra in the spine.  Take a look at where the C1 is on this normal X-ray.  Notice the “space” between the C1 and the base of the skull, or the occipital bone.

Normal Neck X-Ray
Photo Credit: Neck Pain Support Blog

Now look at my x-ray again and notice something really interesting…

Atlas Subluxation, Neck X-Ray
Could this be the reason why I experience migraines???

Why I do not have a space between my C1 and skull is most likely from some kind of injury, according to my chiropractor.  So I will blame my childhood gymnastics trainings where I am 100% sure I fell on my head multiple times.  But really, who knows?

What we do know is this: There are nerves that travel to different parts of the body from each spinal vertebra.  The nerves that are above C1 are those that directly bring blood supply to the head, scalp, pituitary gland, bones of the face, brain, inner and middle ear, sympathetic nervous system, and the eyes.  If my skull is directly touching my C1, then it is very likely that those C1 nerves are getting pinched.  What are the symptoms of a misaligned C1 vertebra and possible pinched nerves?

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Head Colds
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Nervous Breakdowns
  • Amnesia
  • Chronic Tiredness
  • Dizziness

I experience 70% of those symptoms on a regular basis.  Could this C1 misalignment be the answer to my chronic migraines???  Quite possibly.  It’s at least a good, logical theory, and is something my chiropractor seems confident to improve, if not correct.  Therefore, I committed to a 3-month treatment plan with my chiropractor to give it a shot, even though I hate being in vulnerable situations where someone is using extreme force and I hear loud cracks.  I know some people love their chiropractor visits… but honestly, it’s just something I really, really don’t enjoy!

I am a pretty optimistic person, however, when it comes to my migraines I have felt helpless and hopeless after every failed treatment attempt.  This is the start of yet another treatment path, and I am surprisingly hopeful for any bit of positive change that can come about through these chiropractic visits.  We shall see.  At the end of 3 months, my chiropractor will take another x-ray, which I will definitely share with all of you, and of course, I will know by then whether or not my migraines have continued, have lessened, or – is it even possible to imagine – have been cured???

Oh, how I hope that dream can come true.

8 thoughts on “Hit Me With Your Best Crack”

  1. You have great x-rays, so clear!
    I am sure your headaches are related to pinched nerves. I might have told you that my hairdresser had migraines and his therapist told him that the angle of his neck was causing his headaches.
    I have had chiropractors crack my neck but I won’t do that anymore. My bones are too soft. However, I think therapy aimed at alignment will do wonders. So sorry the migraine returned but so glad you have some findings to work on. I am suffering from rather chronic sciatic problem, a new things with me, and I have found that some of the Egoscue exercises are useful. If it’s not one thing, it is another. : )

    1. So sorry to hear that you are suffering now from sciatica! Yikes, I was hoping all the yoga you had been doing would be a cure-all =) All we can do is stay optimistic and stay strong through all these annoying “pains!” Take care Mona!

  2. Those are really great x-rays, Grace… And, very informative too… May this approach finally resolves your ongoing migraines. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  3. Grace I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been suffering for so long. I also lost my curve and I do not have a space between my C1 and skull from an injury. Could you please update us on how your treatment went, please? Thank you!

    1. Hello Carolina,
      I’m so sorry to hear that you have had an injury in the same area of your neck… unfortunately for me, the treatments did not work, but I do believe that everybody has a special circumstance. Mine definitely has more to do with muscle/tension/stress – I think that’s what causes my migraines vs. the actual anatomy and structural shape… although who knows… doesn’t hurt to try if you are desperate!

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