Sinus Pressure Headache | What is the Cause of Sinus Pressure Headache?

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Many people suffer with all sorts of different headaches. Sinus pressure headaches are distinctive in that the person suffering feels pressure above the eyes, below the eyes, and can also feel pressure in the teeth.

The pain that they feel is due to swollen tissues that line the sinus cavities.  Interestingly, sinus pressure headache can be caused by upper cervical spine problems. In this article we will discuss the relationship between the neck, the nervous system, and sinus pressure headache.

The pain that they feel is due to swollen tissues that line the sinus cavities.  Interestingly, sinus pressure headache can be caused by upper cervical spine problems. In this article we will discuss the relationship between the neck, the nervous system, and sinus pressure headache.

Sinus Pressure Headache | Where are the sinuses located?

The sinuses are air ways that connect the outside world with the lungs.  The Sinuses are an interconnected system of hollow cavities located in the front of the skull. The largest sinus cavities are one inch across.  The other sinus cavities are much smaller.

  • Your cheekbones hold your maxillary sinuses (the largest).
  • The low-center of your forehead is where your frontal sinuses are located.
  • The ethmoid sinus is located between your eyes
  • In bones behind your nose are your sphenoid sinuses.

Each sinus cavity is lined with soft, pink tissue called mucosa. Normally, the sinuses are empty except for a thin layer of mucus that helps protect the mucosal membrane.

The inside of the nose has several ridges called turbinates.  The turbinates are designed to help humidify and filter air. A thin wall, called the septum, divides the nose. Most of the sinuses drain into the nose through a small channel or drainage pathway that doctors call the “middle meatus.”

Why do we have sinuses? Experts don’t know. One theory is that they help humidify the air we breathe in. Another is that they enhance our voices.

Sinus Pressure Headache | What is The Cause?

Allergies and Sinus Pressure Headache

There are many underlying causes for sinuses pressure headache.   The membrane that lines the sinuses is easily irritated. People that have chronic sinus trouble often suffer with chronic allergies.

Because allergies cause inflammation due to histamine release, the sinus membranes become inflamed and more susceptible to pain and the feeling of pressure in the face. Many people who suffer with sinus pressure headache find that their symptoms are associated with seasonal allergy influences. If you only suffer during one time of the year the underlying cause may be an allergy.

Your Neck and Sinus Pressure Headache

The sinus membrane is controlled and coordinated by the central nervous system. Like every other cell and function in the body, the central nervous system is the seat of control for ALL function. As a result, interference to normal nervous system function can be an underlying cause of sinus pressure headache.

The mucous membranes receive their postganglionic parasympathetic nerve innervation for mucous secretion originating from the greater petrosal nerve (a branch of the facial nerve- 7th cranial nerve). The superior alveolar (anterior, middle, and posterior) nerves, branches of the maxillary nerve provide sensory innervation.

As a result, interference to normal nervous system function can be an underlying cause of sinus pressure headache. The mucous membranes receive their postganglionic parasympathetic nerve innervation for mucous secretion originating from the greater petrosal nerve (a branch of the facial nerve- 7th cranial nerve). The superior alveolar (anterior, middle, and posterior) nerves, branches of the maxillary nerve provide sensory innervation.

Sinus secretion and function is controlled by the 7th cranial nerve however pain and pressure is experienced by nerve messages that travel from the 5th cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve.  These two cranial nerves have nuclei that sit inside of the brain stem which is located at the base of the skull and housed by the atlas vertebrae.

There are many neurological mechanisms that can be at play following cervical spine injury that can cause irritation and interference to these nuclei and be an underlying factor or cause in sinus pressure headache.

When someone sustains a neck injury from blunt trauma such as a car accident, sports injury, or other whiplash type injury, the upper two vertebrae in the neck can dislodge from their normal biomechanical range of motion, injuring the supporting soft tissue. 

The ligaments that surround the joints of the neck can tear, causing the joint to misalign, and as a protective mechanism the muscles in the cervical spine become tight.  When the cervical spine muscles become tight most often it causes straightening of the cervical spine from its normal backwards c-shape, called hypolordosis

Straightening of the cervical spine can causes ‘tethering” or tensile stress on the brainstem and spinal cord leading to nervous system dysfunction.   This mechanism can be an underlying cause of trigeminal nucleus and facial nerve nucleus dysfunction and relates to many people who suffer with not only sinus pressure headache but a host of other chronic health problems.

ligaments that surround the joints of the neck can tear, causing the joint to misalign, and as a protective mechanism the muscles in the cervical spine become tight.  When the cervical spine muscles become tight most often it causes straightening of the cervical spine from its normal backwards c-shape, called hypolordosis

Straightening of the cervical spine can causes ‘tethering” or tensile stress on the brainstem and spinal cord leading to nervous system dysfunction.   This mechanism can be an underlying cause of trigeminal nucleus and facial nerve nucleus dysfunction and relates to many people who suffer with not only sinus pressure headache but a host of other chronic health problems.

Over the last 18 years our Los Angeles based Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Offices have seen over 10 000 patients with all types of chronic health problems. One of the most common conditions we see associated with upper cervical spine problems is sinus problems. This is likely due to the proximity of the upper cervical spine and the nuclei that controls the function of the sinus membrane.

What Does a Blair Upper Cervical Doctor Do?

Blair Upper Cervical doctors are specially trained to find spinal misalignments in the upper cervical spine. This is determined by running the prospective patient through a battery of neurological tests that locate the spinal segments that have been injured and misaligned by a prior neck Injury. 

Once located, precision imaging in the form of digital x-ray or cone beam computed tomography (Cbct) is used to precisely determine which joint has misaligned and the angulation of the offending joint. Each person’s anatomy is different and therefore imaging is used to uncover the blueprint to be used to correct each patients individual misalignment pattern. Once this information is gleaned, a gentle, light correction is made without twisting, popping, or pulling.

The patient is then monitored over time to ensure that the correction is holding. If the testing indicates the need for another correction, then it is performed. However, the goal of Blair Upper Cervical Care is for the patient to stay in “adjustment” . It isn’t the correction that produces healing. It is the removal of nerve irritation and the adjustment “holding” in its normal position that allows the body to function better and proceed through a healing process.

If you or a loved one is looking for natural sinus pressure headache relief our offices offer a FREE consultation. If you are interested, you can call our LOS ANGELES offices at 213 399-7772 or our Carson, South Bay office at 310 324-6172.

If you are outside of the LOS ANGELES area and looking for a Blair Upper Cervical Chirorpactor you can call our office and we would be happy to help find you a qualified doctor in your area.

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Dr. Drew Hall is a Los Angeles and Carson Chiropractor who serves patients from Long Beach, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Burbank, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Westwood, Pasadena, Culver City, Hollywood and Orange County.


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