Posts for category: Headaches
More Americans complain about headaches than any other health condition, including back pain; in fact, approximately 45 million Americans say they suffer headaches each year. That's one in every six people or more than 16 percent of the population. More than 8 million Americans visit their doctor seeking relief for symptoms of headaches each year. Unfortunately, the most popular treatment is over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medication.
There is some good news when it comes to headaches. There are safe and effective natural solutions available to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of various headache types. For example, chiropractic treatment is a highly sought-after alternative treatment for the debilitating effects associated with headaches. Let's learn about that headache you may be suffering from and how chiropractic can help you get rid of it.
Tension headaches: The most common type of headache is the tension headache. It is estimated that 80-90 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tension headaches at some point in their lives. There are two primary types of tension headaches:
- Episodic: Headaches appear occasionally, usually less than 15 times per month.
- Chronic: Headaches occur more than 15 times per month or on a consistent basis.
Tension headaches are intimately connected to abnormal posture, muscular tightness, joint stiffness, and restricted range of motion in the body. To obtain optimum health and function, it is important to remember that everything is connected and everything matters. Dysfunctional patterns of movement and posture affect how much tension and stress your body holds. The body must compensate for these dysfunctional patterns by any means necessary, and it accomplishes this by altering tension points.
Muscles attach to anchor points on bone and act as primary movers and stabilizers for your body. Mover muscles are used get you from point A to point B, such as a getting up out of a chair. Stabilizer muscles control that movement so you don't fall down while standing up. Abnormal posture and altered tension points on bone anchors puts too much wear and tear on muscles and joints. Your brain and nervous system must compensate for this dysfunction by altering blood flow, muscle movement patterns and breathing. These alterations often lead to tension headaches.
Migraines: The second most common type of headache is the migraine headache. Approximately 16-17 percent of the population complains of migraines. These headaches are far more debilitating than the tension-type headaches. More women than men suffer from migraine headaches, leading researchers to believe there may be a hormonal component to migraines. The majority of migraine sufferers report some sort of trigger that kicks of their headaches (food, drink, smell, etc).
How Chiropractic Can Help
Chiropractic care can help alleviate the symptoms of tension and migraine headaches by improving and restoring normal postural patterns. Chiropractic treatment is aimed at normalizing muscle tension, restoring joint range of motion, and stabilizing the body to reduce abnormal stressors. Optimizing postural control of the head and neck reduces the workload your muscles must apply just to keep your head up during the day. Proper spinal alignment and muscle control helps give the body a fighting chance of avoiding a tension headache.
Proper breathing is essential to relaxation, blood flow, and oxygen supply to the brain and body. Abnormal posture, which can include such dysfunctions as rounded shoulders, neck forward over the shoulders, slouched positions and tightness in the hips from sitting all day, decrease lung capacity. This decreased capacity alters how much you breathe, how often, and from where.
Headache sufferers tend to breathe more from their chest and shoulders as opposed to their diaphragm. This leads to repeated elevation of the shoulders and upper back muscles hundreds of times a day, leading to increased tension in the head and neck. Chiropractic restores function to the spine, ribs, and hips to maximize breathing and good postural control. Better breathing equals better health.
If you're suffering from headaches and are tired of taking pain-relieving medication day after day, your doctor of chiropractic will work closely with you to determine likely triggers for your headaches and make subtle changes in your activities of daily living to empower you to take back control of your life.
Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition
Headaches are known to be brought on by common daily life stress such as traffic, work and child care. For many, headaches can even lead to severe migraines that are hard to treat. What exactly causes headaches has been studied for years, the most recent research has found that what we eat and when we eat it plays a significant role in both headaches and migraines.
There are various vessels that play a role in headaches and what one eats can cause high fluctuating blood sugar levels to spasm and cause pain. If you are often getting headaches when eating certain foods - make a note of it and talk to your doctor.
According to recent reports, many people who suffer from frequent headaches or migraines may be sensitive to certain food chemicals, both naturally occurring and artificial. Common food chemicals that have been found to affect the arteries of the head include:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – a common flavor enhancer, but also found naturally in such foods as tomatoes. There are many food places that cook with MSG, if you suspect there is an eatery you love that cooks with MSG make sure to make a note of it and pass it up the next time.
- Nitrites – these preservatives are found in processed meats and some cheeses. Processed food always seems to mean bad news for your health, the more you stay away from it the less health conditions you will have to worry about.
- Amines – common compounds found in a wide range of foods, including spinach, tomato, potato, small whole fish, tuna, liver, dark chocolate and alcoholic drinks. Other things that can play a role in headaches is caffeine. Some people even get headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
If you suspect you are getting headaches more often after consuming any of the above, you need to be assessed by a qualified health practitioner. It can make a huge difference when it comes to pain relief and the onset of future headaches.
Nobody likes headaches. They can strike with little warning and cause debilitating pain -- especially cervicogenic headaches (HA), which are defined as pain that originates in the cervical spine, or neck area, and refers up to the head.
Researchers investigated the effect of chiropractic treatment on HA in 20 randomized patients, specifically focusing on the relationship between the number of chiropractic treatments and pain relief. Participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups for comparison: Group one received a total of three office visits, one visit per week, for chiropractic manipulation; group two received a total of nine office visits, three visits per week, for chiropractic manipulation; and group three received 12 total visits, four visits per week.
Researchers discovered a correlation between the number of chiropractic visits and positive outcome in headache patients. "For HA pain, substantial differences were found between participants receiving 1 treatment per week and those receiving either 3 or 4 treatments per week," the researchers wrote. The researchers indicated that a larger clinical trial testing the relationship of HA and chiropractic treatment is warranted, and concluded that there are benefits to "9 to 12 [chiropractic] visits over 3 weeks for the treatment of HA/neck pain and disability. A larger number of visits than 12 in 3 weeks may be required for maximum relief and durability of outcomes."
If you suffer from headaches, your doctor of chiropractic can help. Make an appointment for a chiropractic evaluation today.
Reference: Haas M, Groupp E, Aickin M, et al. Dose response for chiropractic care of chronic cervicogenic headache and associated neck pain: a randomized pilot study. JMPT2004;27(9):547-553.
Migraine sufferers have to endure a pain that is recurring, severe and can last up to 72 hours. Warning signs such as an “aura”, which is a type of visual disturbance, and nausea, sometimes accompany migraines. Many sufferers find that conventional medicine and prescription drugs offer little relief from their condition, and many are turning to alternatives methods of treatment in order to manage the pain. One such alternative is ciropractic treatment.
A holistic approach to pain relief, chiropractic treatment focuses on aiding numerous health issues through massage, spinal manipulation and adjustment of the body’s soft tissues and joints, predominantly in the back. But is it effective against migraines?
In February 2000, a study published by Dr. Tuchin et al.  cited the possible benefits of chiropractic treatment in alleviating or easing both the pain and frequency of recurring migraines. The study used a sample of 127 migraine patients, all of whom suffered from at least one migraine per month; this sample was divided into two groups – one control group who received inactive treatment, while the other group received chiropractic treatment, focusing on aligning and treating specific areas of vertebral swelling and misalignment. The study concluded that those who received chiropractic treatment experienced subsequent improvement in the duration of the study, showing reduced pain and frequency of their migraines within two months of treatment. The latter group also reported a decline in the need of migraine medications. Further results from the same study found that one in five sufferers from the chiropractic treatment group had a 90% reduction of migraine frequency, while 50% found significant improvement in the severity of their migraines.
Recent studies conducted by R. Bryans et al. published in 2011 , concluded that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, were found to improve both cerviocogenic headaches as well as migraines. A systematic literature search on controlled clinical trials on the topic of migraines and headaches involving chiropractic treatment, published through August 2009, was conducted using a selection of medical and alternative therapy databases. Research found that chiropractic treatments such as spinal manipulation and massage could significantly help patients who suffer from chronic or episodic migraines, whereas sufferers of tension-type headaches did not respond to such treatment.
While using alternative methods of treatment such as chiropractic care can help sufferers to gain more control over their migraines, it should be treated as another form of support or extra help, instead of completely overlooking conventional medical care.
 P.J. Tuchin, H. Pollard, R. Bonello, A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for Migraine. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 2000: Vol. 23, No. 2, pp91-95.
R. Bryans et al., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jun;34(5):274-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008.