Different Headaches and Chiropractic Care

Adults may experience many different kinds of headaches. A primary headache is a headache that is not a part of another disease process. Secondary headaches can come from a poor eyeglass prescription, diabetes, the flu, or even a brain tumor. The most common primary headaches are tension-type, migraine, and cervicogenic (from the neck).

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In cervicogenic headache, neck function is prominently disturbed. In addition to neck pain, there are usually tight neck and shoulder muscles, and a limited range of motion.

Tension type headaches feel like a tight band around your head. Stress seems to aggravate them and women tend to get this type of headache more frequently.

Females are also more affected by migraine headaches.

There are two types of migraine: classical and common.

The classical migraine headache may start with nausea or sickness in the stomach and proceed to an intense throbbing pain on one side of the head.

The common migraine lacks this nausea and is more common than the classical type.

Research has shown that the three above described headaches can also overlap with one another. In chiropractic, we look to the spine as an often-overlooked factor in headache treatment. By objectively analyzing spine function, the doctor will identify the joints that are restricted in their range of motion or show abnormal posture and alignment. Many patients on x-ray, or through external postural analysis from the side, can show forward head posture. This is where the neck seems to arise from the front of the chest rather than back over your shoulders. The head is very heavy and with this poor posture, the muscles at the back of the neck must contract to restrain this heavy load.

There isn’t one particular bone that is treated for these different types of headaches, the premise being that the headache is a symptom of another problem in the spine.

Chiropractic care has an excellent safety profile and several studies have shown that patients with headaches positively respond to chiropractic care without the side effects often seen with drug treatments. Chiropractic care is one of the most researched non-drug options available for patients. Unfortunately, many patients choose over-the-counter and prescription medications and don’t consider more natural approaches that may get at the cause of the condition rather than just its effects.

 

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What Exercises Are Best for Neck Pain?

Past research has demonstrated that combining spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) with exercise yields the best long-term results for individuals with neck pain. So what neckpain-e1464705188848exercises should we consider when neck pain rears its ugly head?

In the acute phase of an injury, rest and ice may be appropriate, but patients will often benefit from lightly applied isometric exercises. Place your hand against the side of your head and lightly push your head into your hand for a count of five seconds. If tolerated, tip your head sideways five to ten degrees and repeat the process. This can be repeated multiple times at progressively greater angles until you’ve accessed your full range of motion (ROM).

The above isometric exercise can be repeated in the opposite direction as well as forwards, backwards, and into left and right rotation directions. The KEY is to always stay within reasonable pain boundaries—no sharp/”bad” pain allowed!

You can then move on to isotonic neck exercises. Using the same amount of light pressure, gently push your head into your hand as you did before, but this time, allow the head to move slowly toward the shoulder against the pressure of the hand. This too can be repeated on the opposite side, forwards, backwards, and into left and right rotation.

Using only one or two fingers rather than the whole hand helps to prevent you from pushing too hard with your hand or head when performing isometrics or isotonic exercises. Also, the same movements of the head can be done without any hand/finger resistance, but faster results seem to occur when pressure is applied.

Studies also show that weakness of the deep neck flexor muscles is

very common in people with chronic (more than three months) neck pain. These are deep, involuntary muscles, so to properly strengthen them, look straight ahead, tuck in your chin as far as you can, hold for five to ten seconds, and repeat five to ten times.

Beyond treatment options for neck pain such as spinal manipulation, mobilization, and exercise, your doctor of chiropractic may utilize soft tissue therapies such as myofascial release, active release technique, as well as various physical therapy modalities, ergonomic modifications, and more in the effort to help you get out of pain and return to your normal activities.

How Does Chiropractic Help Whiplash Patients?

Whiplash associated disorder (WAD) injuries usually result from rear-end, low-impact crashes with about 90% occurring at speeds less than 14 mph. Approximately 40% of all WAD patients develop long-term, chronic problems. Let’s look at how chiropractic care can help crash-injured patients recover and return to their normal lives…

neck painREDUCE INFLAMMATION: Inflammation occurs when ligaments and muscles are injured. However, the pain associated with inflammation may be delayed and not show up right away. Rather, you may wake up the next morning with acute neck and/or back pain, as WAD injuries are NOT limited to only the neck. Several studies have shown that chiropractic spinal manipulation results in the release of anti-inflammatory Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which helps reduce inflammation.

RESTORE MOVEMENT: Injured joints quickly become stiff from pain and swelling. Muscles often “splint” in response to pain as a way to protect a deeper ligament or joint-related injury. Both factors can lead a patient to unnecessarily restrict their movement, weakening that area of the body, and increasing the risk of further injury down the road.

REDUCE SCAR TISSUE: As injured tissue heals, the body’s “Band-Aid” is actually scar tissue that is made up of similar cells as the surrounding tissue but is laid down quickly and in an unorganized way. Scar tissue reduces the ability for the injured tissue to stretch and can lead to tissue shortening. If it is performed early enough, Chiropractic adjustments help to stretch out and—in a sense—break up the scar tissue.

RELIEVE LOCALIZED PAIN: Many studies report spinal manipulation (SM) to be a safe, fast, and effective way to reduce pain. As a result, SM is now strongly recommended in treatment guidelines published throughout the world.

REDUCE WIDESPREAD PAIN: Some WAD-injured patients develop pain not just in the neck or back but more widespread throughout their body. This is thought to be caused by “sensitization” of parts of our nervous system. Spinal adjustments have been shown to stimulate the nervous system in such a way as to reduce this hypersensitized effect.

REDUCE STRESS & CHRONIC PAIN: Due to initial high pain intensity, stress and anxiety levels often soar following a WAD injury. Chiropractic care includes patient education, exercise, nutrition, and more to help patients cope with ongoing problems. The importance of  cannot be overemphasized in quest of preventing chronic, long-term pain and disability.

Headaches & Chiropractic

What Puts The “Ache” in the Headache?

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints; after all, almost everybody has experienced a headache in their lives. It is estimated that for about 20% of us that are under a “stress overload”, the headaches are chronic and recurrent. What causes headaches? For the most part, headaches are a result of a biochemical stress (such as caffeine withdrawal), psychological stress (such as being too self-critical) or a physical stress (like muscle tension) that the body has been unable to properly adapt to. Surprisingly, a headache is not a brain ache. The pain of sensitive structures of the head is the culprits.

Woman with HeadacheAre Headaches A Normal Part of Life?

Because headaches are so common, many people believe that getting a headache is a normal part of life. Often while doing a case history and asking about headaches we hear patients say “Oh, I just get ordinary morning headaches.” Ordinary? Headaches are usually a sign that something is wrong.  But what do most people do when they have a headache? They take pills.  Americans spend more than $2.5 BILLION on aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen every year. These drugs, apart from their many side effects, treat the symptoms while ignoring the cause of the headache.

What Causes Headaches?

While stress, certain foods and alcohol may be culprits, a frequent overlooked cause of headaches may be culprits; a frequent and overlooked cause of headaches may be the misalignment and malfunction of spinal bones and nerves in the upper neck. What does a bone out of place have to do with headaches?  When spinal nerves and associated structures are compressed, stretched or otherwise irritated, they can produce abnormal body function with headaches, a common effect of that abnormal, stress induced state. While over the counter drugs may cover up these warning signs that the body is malfunctioning, they do nothing to correct the underlying cause of the headache or the associated bodily malfunction.  Neither stress nor headaches are caused by having too little aspirin in your blood.

Can Headaches Be Serious?headache2

A headache is no stranger to most people. One estimate is that headaches occur in 9 out of 10 people. Some are mild but annoying, localized pain that may be attributed to one or more of a variety of causes. Chronic, recurring headaches, which can be the most serious, are of two major types; migraine and tension. These may be frequent and intense, and may involve the severe throbbing, nausea, irritability and sensitivity to bright light common to the migraine or “sick” headache. These headaches can be debilitating. They can affect the vision and bodily functions, bring on pain and sensation elsewhere in the body and even change moods and personality. To find relief, if only temporary, the American public pours out millions of dollars a year for headache remedies.

Is There Research Concerning Chiropractic and Headaches?

Current scientific studies are very favorable for holistic, non-pharmaceutical management of headaches. In a 2001 study at Duke University, McCrory, et al, found that chiropractic adjustments often provided immediate improvement in headache severity when compared to placebo. Furthermore, when subjects continued with follow-up chiropractic care they experienced “sustained improvement in both frequency and intensity of headache”.  This study concluded that chiropractic care was a safe and effective way of providing long term relief of headaches without the use of any pharmaceutical medications. In a study conducted by Wright, et al, 87 patients with classic or common migraine were cared for with “chiropractic spinal adjustments” to treat spinal dysfunction in the cervical spine (neck). In a two year follow-up after discharge from chiropractic care, each former migraine patient was sent a in-depth headache questionnaire to which 85% responded.  Wright stated that of the 87 patients, 33.33% reported no further headaches,
and over 70% of migraine suffers reported getting long term relief without depending on medications.  Whether you are talking about headaches or digestive problems, sinus infections or asthma, back pain or chronic fatigue, gallbladder problems or menstrual cramps it’s all the same…chiropractic gets equally good results with all of these conditions.  Why is that? Because it is not the condition that has the person we are treating. It is the person that has the condition we are caring for, and we are doing this through the nervous system.

Are You Shooting Craps With Your Headaches?

As far as I’m concerned, you’re gambling with your health if you gulp pills and potions every time you have a headache.

People laugh at the fine print on a pain killer bottle.  “Temporary relief” it will always say.

Is that what a person really wants?  Here today, gone tomorrow…..back again the next day?

Of course, an occasional headache doesn’t always stop with an occasional re occurrence.  There’s always a chance of migraine.

You’ll need only one with it’s zig-zag flashes, nausea and depression to tell you that.

But you’ll never find a migraine that doesn’t start with a headache.

If you have occasional headaches I suggest you do what so many migraine sufferers do.  They seek specialized care from a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Pain of Migraine will not “Just Go Away”

Ask any ten people what the five most dangerous words in the English language are and you would probably get ten different answers.

My choice for the five most dangerous words would be: “Maybe it will go away.”

Although some health problems are basically self correcting and will heal themselves with time, there are a great many others that will only get worse with time unless something is done.

Take migraine, for example.

Estimates of the number of migraine sufferers in the United States range from eight (8) to twenty (20) MILLION, depending on whose figures you are studying.

But saying “maybe it will go away in a few years” if you are in your thirties or forties is a negative approach, no matter how optimistic you are of the outcome.  I think if you ask any true migraine sufferer, they will tell you they would rather be rid of their problem NOW.  In many cases of migraine treated by Doctors of Chiropractic, it has been found that the patient is suffering from a misalignment of vertebrae in the neck.

In the case of the nerves which produce the symptoms of migraine, the victim cannot expect to be rid of his or her problem until the irritation to the nerves is removed.  To accomplish this, Chiropractors restore the vertebrae to their proper alignment.  Once this is accomplished, the body can set about healing itself from within and freeing it from the miseries of migraine.

Got Migraine Headaches? Did you know that chiropractic can stop your problem, without aspirin or potentially harmful prescription drugs?

Attention Headache Sufferers:

Is There a Solution for Your Migraine Headaches?

Headaches are frequently cited as one of America’s most common health complaints. Unfortunately people race to “pop a pill” to temporarily mask the pain, only to find the problem has not gone away. What is the cause of many headaches? Research is finally catching up to what chiropractic doctors have known for about 100 years – that many headaches are caused by the irritation of the nerves in the neck!

“But I haven’t injured myself.” Are you sure? We have found that this nerve irritation is often the result of a previous injury that the patient was unaware of. Most of my patients have no idea how incredibly fragile the neck is and how many problems emanate from this area including headaches. Are my headaches a result of subluxations? It’s quite possible. The neck is vulnerable to mild jarring which can cause misalignments of the vertebrae in the neck… and this can cause your headache pain. So why are you getting headaches? Picture a traffic jam during rush hour. All those cars trying to travel down the same expressway simultaneously. This happens in the neck. Since the nerves and blood vessels pass through small openings between these vertebrae, a misalignment can substantially reduce the amount of blood and nerve impulses going to your face and brain – and whammo, you get a headache. Not all headaches are caused by neck problems: some are due to lack of sleep, stress, or psychological issues. However even in patients who reported being under extreme stress, we have been successful helping people stop or reduce their headaches after just a few office visits. There truly is no reason to suffer with headaches with the existence of effective chiropractic treatment. It works, it’s all natural, it’s vastly cheaper than prescription drugs (which only hide the problem, not solve it).

If you have a loved one who complains of headaches, I hope you give serious consideration to seeking an all-natural non-invasive chiropractic solution.

Interested in learning more about how chiropractic can help stop headache pain? Call (309) 692-6800 today. We’re here to help!