woman suffering migrane

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches are one of the most common reasons for visiting the doctor. More than 250 million work days are lost each year due to headache at a cost of 25 billion dollars per year. There are many types and causes of headaches. Muscle tension headaches and migraine headaches are by far the most common types of headaches, but sinus infections and other problems such as high blood pressure can also lead to headaches. Regardless of the cause, if you have a headache, you want it to end. Fast!

This has produced a huge market for medications that cover up the symptoms of headaches. Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.

Headaches are rarely a sign of immediately serious or life threatening health problems. Some headaches are so painful, however, that it may seem that something is very wrong inside the head. A person may present to the medical doctor seeking an explanation of the cause of the headache. Many medical doctors order expensive tests such as MRI or CT scans of the brain to try to visualize the cause of the headache. It has been reported that only one in 11,200 patients with headache have a problem that shows up on these types of tests. It is surprising, then, to note that between one-quarter to one-third of headache sufferers have had a CT or MRI scan. Most often the doctor and/or patient are searching for answers in the wrong direction.

Headache is a very common condition in patients with chiropractic problems. A cause of headaches can be from spinal bones in the neck that aren’t supporting your head properly. This can affect nerves, muscles and even the blood supply to your head. Research has shown that the most common types of headaches respond well to chiropractic care. The vast majority of even the most severe headaches are relieved when spinal subluxations (spinal joints that are out of alignment, don’t move well and also irritate the nerves) and jaw problems are corrected. The effects that these types of problems have on the nerves, often results in pain in the head.

Chiropractic doctors locate areas of the spine that aren’t moving properly. They notice spinal curves. They look at your posture and your ability to turn and bend. The chiropractor is also trained to recognize the signs of rare problems that may require immediate medical attention.

If you’re a good chiropractic candidate, you’re care will consist of a schedule of chiropractic adjustments. These help normalize spinal function, help restore essential spinal curves, improve circulation and reduce nerve irritation. Chiropractic care and periodic check-ups are useful ways of eliminating the most common cause of headaches (subluxation of neck joints)

There are actually three types of headaches:

  1. Primary
    This includes tension, migraine, and cluster headaches. Migraine is one of the most common forms of headache. This type of headache can negatively impact your quality of life and should be treated immediately.
  2. Secondary
    These headaches are caused by an underlying structural problem in the neck or head. Such headaches could be a symptom of conditions such as dental pain from infected teeth or an infected sinus. They could even be a symptom of life-threatening conditions such as meningitis.
  3. Cranial Neuralgias and Facial Pain
    Cranial neuralgia is when one of the 12 nerves that supply the motor and nerve sensation of the neck and head becomes inflamed. Trigeminal neuralgia impacts the cranial nerve and leads to severe facial pain.

Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches

Since chiropractic treatment typically involves the manipulation, moving, and stretching of the spine, few people ever consider it as a way to deal with their headaches, but this is a mistake. In fact, mechanical dysfunction in the vertebrae of your neck causes increased muscle tension and irritates the nerves that control blood flow into the head. By improving the alignment of the bones in your neck, the pressure and irritation that can cause headaches will be relieved.

Typically, a chiropractic treatment plan for headaches will involve the following:

  • Spinal adjustments
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Exercises to help correct your posture
  • Education about job modifications and how they can help keep headaches at bay
  • Referral to other medical professionals if necessary