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!

Ask the Doctor: “My co-worker complains about constant headaches. Does chiropractic work for migraines?”

The answer is: Yes! Chiropractic is actually one of the most effective solutions for Headaches. It is a common myth that headache pain comes only from stress. Many people wonder how headaches occur. Headaches are caused from a blockage in the neck or spine. In the same way that back pain can be caused from a blockage in the spine!

Picture a congested expressway. When you are under stressful situations your heart rate increases and other vital signs increase. This causes a “traffic jam” on the expressway.

When there are problems with the spine and vital signs increase due to stress – which in combination block the body’s ability to cope with the situation adequately – that is when you get a headache. A headache is your body trying to tell you that there is a blockage somewhere in the neck or spine.

This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Your body is trying to tell you what’s wrong and showing the pathway to fixing it!  The next time you or someone you know experiences a headache; remember that it is your body’s way of letting you know that it’s time to remove the blockage!

What if someone you love has been suffering headaches? If they have had frequent headaches occurring 2 or more times weekly, you should seek an appointment with a chiropractor as soon as possible before the problem progresses. We’re here to help… just give us a call at (309) 692-6800 and we’ll take it from there!!

Headaches! What Can Chiropractic Do to Help?

If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches.  Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.
What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache?  Do you grit your teeth and carry on?  Lie down?  Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away?  There is a better alternative.
Research shows that spinal manipulation – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.
Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.
Headache Triggers
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.).  About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.
Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches.  These types of headaches are not caused by disease.  The headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck.  Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
What Can You Do?
  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
  • Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
A doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways – not just back pain.  They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems.

Interested in learning more how chiropractic can help with headaches? Call (309) 692-6800 today, to discover chiropractic benefits.

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).

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.

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.

Recent 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 patents 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.