While occasional headaches can be a normal part of life, they shouldn’t be more common than once or twice month.
I’m often surprised to discover how many of my patients are suffering in silence from regular, sometimes daily, headaches. But daily headaches are not something you need to live with and the answer is almost never “headache tablets”, most of which are simply painkillers that provide temporary relief.
In fact many prescription drugs for headaches list headaches as a possible SIDE EFFECT! Fortunately there are some effective treatment alternatives for headaches that can get you out of pain and keep it that way.
While the International Headache Society classifies over 150 different types of headaches, the most common are migraines, tension, and cluster headaches.
Migraine: light and sound sensitivity, often preceded by an aura.
Tension: triggered by stress, anxiety, dehydration and posture, almost everyone will experience a tension headache during their life.
Cluster: more common in men, severe pain around the eye for 15 min – 1 hour.
Causes of Headaches
While both of these sorts of headaches are incredibly common, especially with our typical lifestyles and our use of technology like smart phones, tablets and lap tops, the good news is that they are quite simple to treat. And better yet, with just a bit of stretch, exercise, and changing of habits, we can keep them away!
Chiropractic care utilises spinal manipulation to mobilise and release dysfunctional joints, which helps to improve cervicogenic headaches. Other techniques that we use, like dry needling, massage, ischemic compression, and stretching, can help release muscle spasm and resolve tension headaches.
When we combine these techniques with postural improvement, education, exercise and better ergonomics, then we address both the symptoms and causes and we can effectively treat the headache.
A variety of research studies through the years have also shown chiropractic care to be an effective treatment and management tool for migraines. Migraines affect around 15% of the population and are predominantly treated with medication, but a number of studies have found that massage and spinal manipulation may be equally as effective.
Considering how many people feel while using strong migraine medication, and the side effects associated with drugs like amitriptyline, chiropractic care should be a consideration for safe management of patients with regular migraines.
If you are suffering from regular or persistent headaches then chiropractic care may have the answer for you.
Leading causes of headaches include the overuse of prescription medication, often causing “bounce-back” headaches, certain foods like coffee, cheese and alcohol, and poor posture, particularly long hours of sitting or standing with the head in a forward position, eg. staring at your computer at work.
Most headaches can be relieved naturally and without drugs. Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to reduce the risk of migraines, vitamin B improves mood and reduces stress, and chiropractic care has been shown to reduce frequency, severity and duration of headaches.
Headaches are one of the most common conditions that present to my clinic, with the vast majority being Tension-type, and these are most often successfully treated with massage, dry needling, and spinal manipulation.
Tension headaches originate from tight muscles in the neck and shoulders. These muscles are aggravated by poor posture, hours spent working at a desk or computer, or a poor nights sleep with the wrong pillow. Occasionally trauma such as whiplash from a car accident can trigger spasm in these muscles too.
When these muscles are tight or spastic they can refer pain up the neck into the back of the head, or in a tight band around the head and into the eyes.
Cervicogenic headaches originate from the joints of the spine. When these joints become inflamed or lose their mobility they can became painful and may also refer pain to the head. These joint dysfunctions can occur on their own, as a result of trauma or injury, or in conjunction with muscle tension.