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Combat Headaches through Chiropractic Therapy

Headaches affect millions of people all around the world.

(Contact us today if you are suffering from headaches and are ready for them to stop.)

They can also be caused by many factors and can vary in severity from mild pain to unbearable pain. A headache is also referred to as a cephalgia and is defined as an ache or pain in the head.

While the condition is commonly associated with a variety of diseases and ailments, a headache can strike without warning, even in patients who are not suffering from any diseases.

Medical experts have divided headaches into different types in order to provide assistance with diagnosing and treating each kind of headache more effectively. This also helps patients in identifying the type of headache they have and can assist with determining whether or not a visit to a doctor’s office is required.

Global Prevalence of Headaches

Man headache

Headaches are known to be the most common type of neurological disorder. The condition affects at least 50% of the global population at any given time and patients affected by this condition often report experiencing headaches throughout their entire lifetime.

At least 23% of all households have one or more patients suffering from migraine attacks in Australia. And there are approximately seven million patients in the country that suffer from tension-type headaches on a regular basis. It is also reported that more than 10 million patients in the United Kingdom suffer from some type of headache on a regular basis.

Headache & Migraine News Australia also claims that the majority of headache cases account for patients aged between 25 years and 44 years.

With these figures in mind, it is important to focus on the effect of headaches on a person’s quality of life. It is reported that 91% of patients suffering a migraine attack are unable to continue normal functionality at work or at home.

It is also reported that 53% of these cases lead to bed rest and severe symptoms. Migraine is also reported as the 7th most common cause for disability throughout the entire world and migraine also ranks in the top 20 diseases accounting for years of healthy life lost due to disabling effects.

Types of Headaches

While a headache generally affects the head, numerous types of headaches have been identified, each with its own symptoms and severity. Medical scientists have identified a total of five different types of headaches, including the symptoms, causes and diagnosis of each.

  • Tension Headaches – This is the most common type of headache and usually feels like pressure around the head. Tension headaches can also appear as constant aches around the head. The focus of the pain is usually around the back of the head, the neck and at the temples on the head. These headaches are usually not too severe and they are not likely to have a large impact on quality of life or the ability to perform certain tasks. Tension headaches can usually be treated with aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen; although an array of other over-the-counter drugs are also available to assist with the relief of such a headache.
  • Sinus Headaches – These headaches are usually caused by a sinus infection and occur when sinus becomes inflamed. A fever accompanies sinus headaches on most occasions. The condition can be treated with numerous types of medication including decongestants, antibiotics and antihistamines.
female tension headache cured by chiropractic
  • Rebound Headaches – This type of headache is caused by the overuse of painkillers. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause this effect. There are different theories as to why rebound headaches occur, but no definite cause has been identified as yet. Medical scientists believe that either the headaches are triggered when the brain shifts into an excited state due to an overuse of pain medication, or it occurs as a withdrawal symptom when the pain medication starts to flow out of the bloodstream. Some common pain medications that can lead to rebound headaches include aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol.

•   Cluster Headaches – These headaches are recurring and they can occur in cycles or in groups. They usually appear suddenly and the patient experiences debilitating pain on a single side of the face. Symptoms that are commonly associated with cluster headaches include nasal congestion, watery eyes and a runny nose. These symptoms occur on the same side of the face as the headache. Cluster headaches are known to cause an uncomfortable and
restless feeling in the patient and have been linked to genetic components. While a cure has not been developed for this type of headache, several drugs are available to assist with reducing the duration of each attack, as well as reduce the frequency of the attacks.

•   Migraine Headaches – This type of headache can be extremely disabling. While it is not as common as a tension headache, there are still millions who experience this severe form of a headache each day. Migraines are also known to run in families. The diagnosis of this condition is usually made according to very specific criteria. When a patient has at least five attacks that last between four to 72 hours, they might be diagnosed with a migraine. Doctors will usually continue to determine if the patient also showcases at least two of the following symptoms: throbbing pain, moderate or severe pain, one-sided pain and pain that limits the patient’s abilities to perform daily activities. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to both lights and sound are also present in many patients diagnosed with this condition.

Woman neck pain

Headache Sources

Apart from the fact that medical research has identified different types of headaches, further studies have found several sources for these types of headaches. Some headaches are present in the skull, while others stretch towards the neck and other parts of the upper body.

Cervicogenic headaches are one such example

which is the result of spinal problems in the neck area. These headaches can be caused by spinal misalignment, increased muscle tension, or when injury to the neck occurs.

It is reported that these headaches are experienced at the back of the head and the pain can spread towards the upper part of the skull, as well as to the forehead. Discomfort and pain in the neck is also associated with cervicogenic headaches.

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reports that cervicogenic headaches are usually referred to the head from two major parts of the neck – either the bony structures or the soft tissues. They also report that the nerve fibers located in the upper cervical spinal cord region interacts with sensory fibers that are located in the upper cervical roots.

This is believed to be the way painful sensations are referred in two ways between the head and the neck.

They also report findings on a study conducted among participants suffering from migraine attacks.

Altered neck posture, muscle tenderness, dislocation of joints and the presence of myofascial trigger points were all reported to be present within the patients with migraine attacks, while the specific findings were not present in patients who did not report migraine attacks.

Reeves & Swenson reports the pain-sensitive intracranial structures to include the meningeal arteries, parts of the cerebral arteries, venous sinuses, numerous cranial and cervical nerves, as well as dura, which is found at the base of the brain.

Spinal misalignments (subluxations) in the upper cervical spine tend to irritate four specific muscles due to the fact that these muscles are attached to these vertebrae. It is important to get proper treatment from a chiropractor to fix this.

•   Splenius Muscles – This group of muscles consists of the splenius capitis and splenius cervicus. The splenius capital runs from the upper back to the base of the skull, while the splenius cervicis runs from the upper back to the upper cervical vertebrae. These muscles can cause a headache pain that travels throughout the head, as well as to the back of the eyes.

•   Suboccipitals – This group contains a total of four individual muscles that provide proper movement. The muscles are found between the base of the skull and the first cervical vertebra. Headache pains caused by these muscles feel like they are inside the head and often travel toward the back of the eyes.

•   Sternocleidomastoid – This muscle is attached to the sternum and runs through the neck, behind the ear and reaches the base of the skull. Visual disturbances, referred pain and problems with overall balance are commonly associated with headache pain caused by this muscle.

•   Trapezius – A large muscle that is found in the upper and mid back of the skull. Headache pain caused by this muscle can travel towards the jaw, temple, back of the head and can even lead to tooth pain.

Chiropractor’s Role in Relieving Headaches

Happy woman after chiropractic adjustment.

Chiropractors have been used for an array of health problems that relates to the spine. Pain and many other ailments can be effectively alleviated through proper adjustment of the spine.

The Blye Cranial Technique is a popular option that provides relief of headaches. This technique directly addresses the cranial subluxations and is a power technique for spinal chiropractic care. The technique uses a reactive leg length testing process and a patient assisted challenging for the diagnosis.

The diagnosis assists the chiropractor with identifying the precise location of the subluxation. Once identified, the chiropractor can use an adjustment instrument in order to make adjustments to the cranial subluxations in a safe and natural manner.

Conclusion

A headache attack can happen at any time, even when in the most important meeting of your life.

Getting a headache evaluation by a chiropractor is a must in order to get effective relief.

At Discover Life Chiropractic Tacoma, we evaluate your spinal alignment, posture, and neurologic tension in order to formulate an effective treatment plan.

Then using regular chiropractic care, Blye Cranial technique, and exercise we can attack the spinal cause of your headache. With over 25 years of success don’t hesitate to give us a call at 472-4400 and get your life back.

Resources

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About Headaches

We all experience various forms of headaches at different points in time. Most times, the most convenient form of relief is to take painkillers. Other times, just a little bit of rest, and taking some water helps to calm a headache. However, headaches cause distress and can leave you unable to carry out important tasks. There are people who usually get bothered when they begin to experience frequent headache attacks and attribute it to a more serious cause. Most of the time, however, headaches do not do any serious damage.

WHAT CAUSES HEADACHES?

While a headache generally affects the head, numerous types of headaches have been identified, each with its own symptoms and severity.

Medical scientists have identified a total of four different types of headaches, including the symptoms, causes, and diagnosis of each.

  • Tension HeadachesThis is the most common type of headache and usually feels like pressure around the head. Tension headaches can also appear as constant aches around the head. The focus of the pain is usually around the back of the head, the neck and at the temples on the head. These headaches are usually not too severe, and they are not likely to have a large impact on the quality of life or the ability to perform certain tasks. Tension headaches can usually be treated with aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen; although an array of other over-the-counter drugs are also available to assist with the relief of such a headache.
  • Sinus HeadachesThese headaches are usually caused by sinus. Infection can occur when sinuses become inflamed. A fever accompanies sinus headaches on most occasions. The condition can be treated with numerous types of medication, including decongestants, antibiotics, and antihistamines.
  • Migraine headachesThis headache is basically unilateral in nature. It usually causes throbbing pains. Carrying out routine physical activity can cause a migraine to escalate. Migraines may be anywhere from moderate to severe. When a migraine strikes, you may get nauseous and experience vomiting episodes. Sensitivity to elements such as light, as well as sounds and smells usually accompany migraines. An episode of migraine could last anywhere from a few hours into days. Beta blockers are usually given to migraine patients to stop headaches from occurring.
  • Cluster headachesThis headache type is kind of distant. Cluster attacks usually come with one-sided pain. Each attack determines what side gets affected. It usually comes with a very severe pain that feels like a stab. Short episodes may last for just a couple of minutes, but cluster headaches can stay as long as three hours before resolving itself. It is normal to have this headache reoccurring severally in one day or throughout the entire week. The pain can escalate if you lie down. Sufferers of this headache usually experience a watery eye and nasal congestion depending on what side the headache attacks. Alcohol consumption is known to trigger cluster headaches.

HOW TO GET RID OF HEADACHES

Dealing with the pain that comes from headaches can be achieved using a wide range of options. There are anti-inflammatory medications (no steroids), for example, to help with that. Antidepressants are usually given to migraine patients to stop headaches from occurring. There may be times when medications do very little to alleviate persistent headaches. Check out these alternative approaches that could actually prove effective in your fight against headaches –

Biofeedback

Biofeedback involves the monitoring of body functions like blood pressure, the tension in the muscles, the temperature of the skin, as well as heart rate, with the use of electronic sensors. The patient gets feedback via sounds. Another way of sending feedback to the patient is through the use of computer images. The objective of biofeedback is to help patients learn to control their body responses in order to stop headache pains. This remedy is suggested by studies to be very potent when it comes to migraines and tension headaches.

Acupuncture

Your body’s energy flow is realigned by inserting needles under your skin. This is what acupuncture is all about. Acupuncture is touted as an effective preventative measure against acute migraines. It is also believed to come with far lesser side effects when compared to drug treatments. Individuals who experience tension headaches may also benefit from acupuncture.

Massage

Rubbing your temples can provide you with temporary relief from headaches. You could also go for a professional massage to your back as well as neck and head. Massage sessions frequently can help to prevent the regular occurrence of migraines, according to studies. It can also promote better sleep.

Meditation

By applying a wide range of meditation techniques, you can quiet your mind and shield it from distractions like pain through focused attention. Studies are being carried out to determine whether meditation techniques can help to reduce the rate at which migraines occur and their level of severity. A study involving migraine patients revealed that the frequency of headaches was significantly reduced as a result of spiritual meditation while helping to improve tolerance for pain. The results were better when compared with muscle relaxation as well as secular meditation.

Yoga

Is it possible that yoga can provide relief for headaches? A study involving migraine patients was carried out to determine whether yoga could help relieve migraines. Participants who took part in yoga experienced reduce migraine occurrences and felt less anxious. Yoga involves a combination of meditation, physical postures, as well as breathing exercises, in order to restore balance to the entire being.

Relaxation

Relaxation exercises such as breathing deeply, making use of mental imagery, and listening to soft music is a very good way for individuals to unwind and probably experience relief from headaches. The role of relaxation exercises in tackling headaches requires more research. There is a wide range of relaxation techniques that can be applied. Exercises such as lying still, taking in deep breaths, reciting mantras, and more can help to consciously relax the muscles.

HOW CHIROPRACTIC CAN HELP RELIEVE HEADACHES

Chiropractic is actually a very good alternative to popping pills for headaches. It is one of the better solutions to getting rid of headaches. According to research, spinal manipulation could help to effectively treat tension headaches as well as neck related headaches. Spinal manipulation is a technique that is usually used by chiropractic doctors. In 2014, a JMPT report was released where it was discovered that some of the primary interventions that are associated with chiropractic care help to improve acute neck pain as well as chronic neck pain conditions with evidence of increased benefits in different instances.

A JMPT study carried out in 2011 revealed that chiropractic care, together with spinal manipulation, helps to improve migraines as well as cervicogenic headaches.

If you are experiencing primary headaches, chiropractic doctors may be able to help you. There are techniques and procedures that can be initiated by a doctor of chiropractic. Here they are –

  • Your doctor of chiropractic may carry out spinal manipulation as well as other chiropractic adjustments as a way of improving spinal function in order to relieve your system of built-up stress.
  • You will get proper nutritional advice from your doctor of chiropractic. There might be diet change recommendations together with the prescription of the vitamin B complex.
  • You will also get professional advice on relaxation techniques, ergonomics, as well as exercises that can help you. If you apply the advice that you get, you should experience some level of muscle tension relief, especially in the neck as well as upper back.

Chiropractic doctors undergo intense training to ensure that they are properly equipped to provide assistance to patients in a wide range of ways which are more complex than providing treatment for pain in the back region. Their knowledge about the relationship between the spine and the entire human body empowers them to take the right steps to help eliminate these problems.

Final thoughts

Headaches come in different kinds and have different triggers. This guide helps you understand headaches better and how to find relief if you are currently battling with one.