3 Things Headaches And Migraines Have In Common With Sciatic Pain

 Headaches, Migraines & Sciatic Pain Intro

Headaches, migraines and sciatic pain are some of the mist common and also some the most miserable conditions I see in my practice. Sciatic pain and migraines can be especially intense and are among those conditions that are extremely debilitating. In a sense there are 2 kinds of pain, the kind you can function with and the kind you cannot, migraine headaches and sciatic pain are frequently the latter.

On the face of it headaches, migraines and sciatic pain are all quite distinct and different complaints. Under the surface they have a great deal in common however, not only in terms of their intensity and impact on wellbeing but in terms of their basic makeup as conditions. Here are 3  of the most important and useful to know parallels…

Neither Migraines or Sciatic Pain Are ‘Real Conditions’.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a broken leg and a bad dose of Malaria you have two very definite, specific and verifiable ‘conditions’. The broken leg will show up on an x ray and you can see the Plasmodium parasite having a jolly old time in your blood system.
Headaches, migraines and sciatic pain fake news.

The real news is that headaches are a symptom not a condition.


If you have a headache or a migraine however, you are not suffering with something that can be isolated, viewed or measured by science. Headaches and migraines no doubt have their causes but those causes are not identifiable or singular. If we are going to be realistic a ‘headache’ is no different to a ‘sneeze’. You cannot be diagnosed with a sneeze because it is a symptom not a condition.
The same truth applies to sciatic pain aka sciatica. Sciatic pain is a symptom not a condition. The terms sciatica and sciatic pain refer to pain in the general jurisdiction of the sciatic nerve, ie. the back of the leg. There are numerous possible causes of pain down the back of the leg and of pain that is generated specifically within the sciatic nerve and it’s accessory nerves.
So next time someone tells you that they (or you even) have a headache or sciatic pain you will know that it is not a ‘diagnosis’. Having pain in your head or down the back of your leg are both reasons to get checked out PROPERLY and get to the bottom of what issue is causing the pain. That underlying ‘cause’ whatever it may be is the actual diagnosis.

Sciatica, Migraines And Headaches Are Usually Forms Of Referred Pain.

The majority of pains come directly from and are felt within the actual problem area. If you stub your toe or sprain your ankle for instance the pain arises at the site of injury, and life is uncomfortable but straightfoward. There are other moments in life where pain is more complex, a well known example is when you are having a heart attack but you feel pain right down your left arm.
When pain is felt in an anatomically separate region other than where the issue is happening we call it ‘referred pain’ or sometimes ‘radicalular pain’.
Image depicting nerve cells involved in referred pains like sciatic pain, headaches and migraines.

The torrent of information carried within the nervous system and it’s cells can give rise to confusion over the true location of pain.

Referred pain is basically an aspect of the bodies complexity and imperfection. Sometimes the brain simply isn’t able to tell accurately from the Niagara-like flow of incoming information where precisely a problem is. Which is forgivable. You have to bear in mind that the the brain overseas an organisation that performs 300 trillion trillion tasks per second.
In a given life moment your brain and nervous system can have a lot on. You may only consciously be aware of the pain in your leg and some passing thoughts but your nervous system is multitasking on a grand scale. In a given moment it can be overusing the growth of your unborn child, turning yesterday’s food into human tissue, fighting a low level infection, walking, monitoring your safety crossing the road and worrying about whether Chloe Kardashian will ever find true love with a man that she can trust.. like really trust.
This google-esque torrent of information means that perfect location based sensory processing is not always possible. Hence, a problem with the neck or jaw can mean migraine and headache symptoms in the head, problems in the spine and pelvis can mean pain felt in the leg.
It’s probably fair to say that this fact of life is more or less common knowledge with sciatic pain. What is far less well known is the fact that the majority of headaches and migraines follow similar rules, having much of their underlying cause in the neck and jaw.

Both Headaches and Sciatica Are Figure-Outable

If you have an infection in most cases you can take a series of actions that will lead to it’s resolution. We are lucky enough to have access to an excellent range of natural and pharmacological interventions that will resolve the vast majority infections. If you have bad tooth ache the same applies, as horrible as it is tooth ache is generally figure-outable. Your doctor isn’t going to resolve your toothache and neither is your accountant, but you know a guy who probably can. If the worst comes to the worst there are surgeons who specialises in dental and facial procedures, if your dentist can’t sort out whatever is going on.
To symbolise the fact that headaches, migraines and sciatic pain can be resolved.

It’s not always easy but headaches, migraines and sciatic pain can usually be figured out with a bit of persistence.


The funny thing about our little world though is that we often don’t realise that the same is true of headaches, migraines and sciatic pain. With a bit of persistence and flexibility migraines, headaches and sciatica are figure-outable. Despite this fact many folk in our culture will often just put up with these complaints, or perhaps only ask their doctor. for pills. There is a subtle belief in our society that complaints like headaches, migraines and sciatic pain are less figure-outable than toothaches and infections.
The good news is that there are many many ways of tackling problems like tension headaches, migraines and sciatic pain. The number of people who have trodden this path before you and found solutions is untold. The trick is not to wait around until ‘the science’ says it’s okay.
We are many many years from fully enveloping treatment for these conditions into the modern scientific measured and documented protocol. The good news however is that we were benefitting from hard workouts and fish oils for millenia, prior to them being measured by science. Treatment for sciatic pain, tension headaches and migraines is kinda like that.. you just have to get on with it.


Life is hard enough without suffering long and hard with life limiting forms of pain that are manageable with the right set of approaches. Don’t do it!
Pain has been called the 5th vital sign. This means that having stubborn pain is an indicative of an absence in full wellbeing. The sooner we all start taking a more pro-active and open approach to managing our pain the better it is for our bodies tissues in the longer term. Not to mention our mental and emotional state, that stuff that adds up to a little thing they call happiness.
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