Chiropractic patients have described their headaches as throbbing and pounding pain in their head and some have spent the day in a dark room because your head pain makes you nauseous? If you have, then you are one of the millions of people that suffer from headaches. And headaches aren’t just for adults. According to the American Council for Headache Education, 4-10% of children suffer from some type of headaches. And in 1992, women made 10,000,000 visits to their primary doctor for headaches. It is one of the most common causes for absenteeism from work, 1.1 days every three months.
Chiropractors can treat the many types of headaches out there. There are primary and secondary headaches. Primary refers to headaches that occur on there own and not because of another health problem. These include migraines, tension-type and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are from some other condition including head injury, blood vessel problems, medication side effects, infections, sinus disease or tumors. If a person has headaches that waken them from sleep, early morning vomiting without nausea, worsening or more frequent headaches, personality changes, pain with fever or stiff neck or those that follow an injury, the primary doctor will want to order advanced tests to rule out serious or life threatening conditions.
A tension headache is the most common type and can be related to stress and tight muscles. These are commonly treated with over the counter pain medication but considering the side effects of long term use of these medications, alternative treatments are as effective and safer. Acupressure to the bridge of your nose at the corner of your eyes is helpful as is pressing on the flesh between your thumb and index finger. A cold compress to the forehead with heat to the back of the skull helps to normalize the blood flow to the head.
Migraine headaches can be so severe as to be debilitating. Often there is a warning, or prodrome, which signals the beginning of the pain. The warning may include blurry vision, flashing lights, colored spots or strange tastes. Nausea and vomiting commonly occur. They can be causes by flickering lights, weather changes, blood vessel changes, or food sensitivities. There may even be a genetic tendency in families.
Chiropractic adjustments have been well documented to help tension and migraine headaches. In fact, one study compared chiropractic with the drug, Amitriptyline. It showed that adjustments were as effective as the drug and the improvement lasted longer. Tension in the neck caused by tight muscles can pull the spine out of alignment, causing tissue inflammation resulting in headaches. In a randomized controlled trial performed at the University of Odense, Denmark, those under chiropractic care decreased their use of painkillers by 36% and the number of headache hours decreased by 69%.
The best type of treatment is prevention. Biofeedback, stress reduction and elimination of foods which may trigger. Regular exercise can also reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. Yoga can accomplish exercise, stress reduction and relaxation. Massage can help to keep the muscles more relaxed. In my office, we combine chiropractic care with posture balancing exercises to help with the tight muscles. The majority of people that we and other chiropractors treat for headaches respond very quickly. With a little effort, you can control your pain with out a lot of medication.