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WHY DOES IT HURT?

What hurts when you have a headache?

Although it sometimes feels like it, it isn’t the bones of the skull or the tissues of the brain, because these parts of the body have no pain-sensitive nerves.  But the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders, and the blood vessels across the surface and base of the brain all have nerve fibers that are sensitive to pain. This network of nerves extends over the scalp, temples, face, throat and neck.

But most often, the place where we feel the pain is not the place where the pain actually originates. This is due to a phenomenon known as “referred pain.”    Referred pain occurs when a nerve is stimulated at one location in the body and the sensation of pain travels down the nerve fiber to be sensed in another location. For example, heart attack pain is often felt as pain in the left arm or the jaw; gall bladder pain is experienced as pain in the right shoulder. 

The source of the pain may be near the origin of the nerve fiber but the sensation of pain is felt in the part of the body where the nerve fiber ends, where its nociceptor is located and is activated by the nerve impulse.

The pain we experience as a headache is often referred pain that is actually originating in the shoulder, back, neck or other parts of the body.  Relieving the headache pain means finding the true source of the pain and then treating the cause it at its source.


headachetherapy.org | Email Michael | 847.770.3332