HEADACHES AND MIGRAINES GETTING REGULAR? Chiropractic can help.
Speak to anyone who suffers headaches and migraines regularly and you will learn how debilitating and annoying it can be. It can get to the point where you’re unable to function or even go to work. Having said that, it intrigues me how often people tell me they suffer ‘normal’ headaches or migraines like everyone else. There is nothing normal about a headaches or migraines!
Daily headaches aren't something you "have to live with."
Top research publications have found chiropractic care can provide 50% or more relief for headaches without the risky side effects typically associated with drugs and medications.
The International Headache Society has classified over 150 different types of headaches. There are many different types of headaches and migraines which cause facial pain and some of these include cervicogenic headaches, tension-type headaches, migraines with/without aura, sinus headaches, cluster(suicidal) headaches, TMJ or jaw dysfunction, infection, temporal arteritis and trigeminal neuralgia.
Knowing what kind of headache you are dealing with is the first step towards finding the best plan of care to find relief.
The most common are migraines, tension, and cluster headaches.
Migraine: sensitivity to light and sound is common during migraine headaches. Approximately 1/3rd of people will experience an aura before the onset of a migraine
Tension: almost everyone will experience a tension headache during their life. Stress, anxiety, dehydration, and even posture can trigger a tension headache
Cluster: affecting more men than women, cluster headaches causes severe pain behind or around your eye and last between 15 minutes and 3 hours
THE CAUSES OF HEADACHES
There are a multitude of reasons why people suffer headaches and migraines. Potential causes that we see often in clinical practice range from stress, hormonal imbalance, blood pressure changes, poor posture, muscle tightness and cervical spine dysfunction.
Ironically, one of the most common causes of headaches is the medication usually prescribed to treat headaches. Overuse of many of over the counter medications is a leading factor in a refractory or bounce-back headache, which is why pills may not be the best option for care. Many tension headaches get their start with repetitive motion and poor posture while sitting or standing at work.
Keeping your shoulders back and your spine in proper alignment throughout the day can help prevent future episodes. And finally- most of the good stuff like coffee, cheese, alcohol, and meats have substances that can cause headaches. You don't need to eliminate them, but we recommend having a watchful eye towards moderation.
ANATOMY OF THE CERVICAL SPINE
The cervical spine consists of seven individual bones (referred to as vertebrae) as well as their associated musculature, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels. If your spine is misaligned as is the case seen with poor posture and loss of normal cervical lordosis it leads to compensatory changes in nerve function, muscle tightness, pain, stiffness as well as headaches and migraines. Because of this, Chiropractors are well placed to assist these types of cases as they are musculoskeletal rehabilitation experts.
WHAT ARE THE BEST HEADACHE TREATMENT TECHNIQUES?
See below for detailed information regarding some of the most common approaches used by headache & migraine sufferers.
Chiropractors may use a range of treatment techniques that are best suited to your individual situation, some techniques that you may experience in relation to your headache treatment include:
Chiropractic care has been shown to help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of headaches without the side effects typically associated with drugs and medications.
Spinal manipulation for cervical spine dysfunction involves adjusting restricted joints (particularly of the upper neck) to improve joint alignment, movement, flexibility and reduce referred headache pain
Joint mobilisation is sometimes a preferred technique as it is more gentle on the joints of the neck and spine. Mobilisation involves stretching joints.
Activator methods requires the use of a hand held Chiropractic instrument that makes a characteristic clicking sound when used. This technique is much like joint mobilisation and does not require any ‘cracking’ of joints
Traction Therapy (stretching of the cervical spine) is favoured in many cases of cervical spine tension and as another form of joint mobilisation that involves gently stretching joints of the spine opening restricted spinal joints to improve spinal movement and reduce pressure on the disc
VITAMINS & MINERALS
Three of the most effective natural solutions for headaches include magnesium, chiropractic care, and b-vitamins. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to migraine headaches. Taking a magnesium supplement has the potential to reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches without any of the side-effects typically associated with painkillers.
B-vitamins are a powerful natural way to reduce stress and improve your mood. If stress is a significant factor in your headaches- B-vitamins may be a natural fit for relief.
We stock a full range of practitioner-prescribed supplements to help with headache and migraines
If your headaches and migraines involve a muscular cause than massage techniques as used by Myotherapists and Remedial Massage therapists can be useful. Techniques may include effleurage, trigger point therapy, ischaemic compression and more which are designed to reduced muscle and soft tissue spasm.
Acupuncture is a therapy that uses fine needles which are inserted into specific points around the body to facilitate relaxation and blood vessels changes. Both of these actions reduce pain associated with headaches, migraines and many other musculoskeletal related problems.
Typical medications which are commonly administered for headaches and migraines include Imigran, Nurofen plus, Mersyndol and Panadine Forte. Please consult with your doctor prior to taking such medications to see if it is safe for your current situation.
HEADACHES AND CHIROPRACTIC REASERCH
Patients were treated once or twice per week for 8 weeks where chiropractic care can provide 50% or more relief for headaches without the risky side effects typically associated with drugs and medications. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Spine J. (2010) Feb; 10(2): 117-28.
A 32 year old woman suffering persistent headaches over a 5-month period received Chiropractic care in combination with Acupuncture. It was noted upon follow up that her headaches had resolved and she did not report an episode in the previous 12months suggesting that these methods were an effective headache treatment option. Bahia, O. (2012). Combination of Acupuncture and Spinal Manipulative Therapy: Management of a 32yr old patient with chronic tension type headache and migraine. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 11(3); 192 – 201
It has been shown that Chiropractic manipulation improves migraine and headaches of cervicogenic origin suggesting a positive influence in headache treatment. Roland, B et al (2011). Evidence based guidelines for the Chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, 34(5); 274 – 289
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