Headaches affect most people at some point in their lives. They are often a reason why people miss work, school or can’t participate in some of their daily activities. There are many kinds of headaches that present in different ways. All of them cause varying degrees of discomfort in the head. Fortunately, only a small percentage of headaches are warning signals as a result of a serious pathologic underlying cause. Most headaches are not caused by disease and the headache itself is the concern. There are three general categories of headaches. These include migraines, cluster, and tension types.
Migraines can cause severe throbbing or pulsing pain, often but not always on one side of the head. They can last for hours or even days. They are often preceded by a warning sign referred to as aura. They are often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, nausea, and or vomiting.
Cluster headaches occur in cluster periods that last weeks to months followed by periods of remission. Pain is severe on one side of the head, usually accompanied by tearing eyes and nasal discharge.
Tension headaches are a tight feeling around the head or behind the eye and are often associated with muscle pain. They can be mild, moderate, or severe and can last days to weeks.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head, neck, and upper back areas of the body. Research has shown that chiropractic is very effective in treating this type of headache. There are many things that can trigger tension headaches but some of the most common are:
- poor posture
- sitting in a position for a long period of time (ie. at work in front of a computer)
- lack of sleep
- eye strain
- a cold or illness
- decreased intake of water
- skipping meals
- food sensitivities
By identifying the underlying causes of the headache you can begin to work on correcting the things that are triggering your headaches. For example, you can drink more water, get adequate sleep, correct your posture and take breaks when you are in a prolonged position. This can help prevent the headaches from occurring. Chiropractic care can help treat the source of the headache by correcting the tension in the muscles with soft tissue muscle work combined with specific chiropractic adjustments. It is a safe and effective solution in the treatment and prevention of headaches. Tension headaches often respond to treatment and the resolution of chronic tension headaches can affect your quality of life. Chiropractic care can also help decrease the intensity and frequency of migraine-type headaches.
Doctors of chiropractic can assess, diagnose and manage headaches. A thorough history and evaluation will allow the doctor to rule out any serious pathologies and determine whether chiropractic care is an appropriate treatment for you. The chiropractor can refer a patient for X-rays or MRI to further determine a diagnosis if clinically indicated. Using all of the information, a chiropractor will recommend a treatment plan that is right for you. Along with treatment, the doctor will be able to provide advice in care for the headaches at home such as icing or heat, lifestyle modifications, stretching and exercise, and nutrition advice to help resolve your headaches now and in the future.