Is Imaging Important?

In his third episode on The Headache Doctor Podcast, Dr. Taves explains why imaging is not the best technique for diagnosing headaches and migraines. He seeks to dispel the myth that all headache and migraine patients need an MRI or x-ray scan to determine the cause of their pain.

In the previous episode, Dr. Taves identified

that a movement problem is one of the most
overlooked causes of headaches and migraines.
Headaches fall into a compensation pattern,
where the joints and muscles compromise and end

up being twisted out of shape. The tissues become

irritated, and it leads to chronic pain, when the neck

sends pain signals up to the head.

Imaging fails to pick up movement issues, because

doctors only receive a still image. The scanner cannot

show what happens when a patient moves his neck.

Although neurologists work is valuable and helpful, it

doesn’t show the full picture.

Patients are put through an arduous process that is

expensive, long, and impersonal. After taking an MRI

or x-ray, they are expected to wait months before

receiving results. When their results come in, they

receive an impersonal call from the doctor’s office and

are often given medication or assigned surgery.

Dr. Taves lays out two scenarios that often follow

post-imaging. The first is when the imaging shows up

negative, and there is nothing wrong that can be deduced

from the test. A doctors solution to this result is to trial

a medication.

The second scenario is when the image shows stenosis,

or degenerative changes in the upper portion of the

neck that indicates wear and tear in the cervical discs.

Doctors attribute all the patients symptoms to this cause.

However, Dr. Taves asserts that although worn or torn

discs are a problem, that is often not the primary cause

of headache pain. Movement is the primary cause.

Attributing the patients migraines to the torn discs, the

doctor will send the patient to a neuro or orthopedic

surgeon. However, this leaves patients stuck with

an irreversible surgery that may not aid in curing them

of their pain.

Physical therapists don’t use imaging, but they are able

to deduce the source of pain by examining the head

and neck. Dr. Taves sees that migraine pain is caused

by a region higher up in the neck where movement has

been lost. Physical therapists seek to restore upper

cervical spine movement.

In the ideal scenario where a migraine patient is seeking

help, a physical therapist will examine the upper cervical

spine, address movement problems, and treat the patient

by restoring full mobility. This process permits a

satisfactory explanation for the cause of the patients pain

and grants relief by offering a solution that avoids medication

or surgery.

The physical therapists method empowers individuals to

take control of their headaches and migraines and grasp

a solution that leaves them free of pain. This is Dr. Taves’

goal at Novera Headache Center.

Click the link below to listen to Episode 3 of The Headache

Doctor Podcast.

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