By Dr. Drew Hunt, DC
How common are headache?
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. If you are someone who suffers from headaches regularly, you are undoubtedly familiar with the traditional methods used to treat them – ice, rest and popping a pill or two, or three… Even if this or another method works to alleviate the symptoms, you are still not addressing the core causes of headaches and are therefore missing out on permanent relief.
What causes headaches?
There are a wide range of conditions that can cause headaches, most of which are benign but some may be a sign of a more serious condition. The majority of headaches originate from the muscles, joints and/or nerves of the neck. This group of headaches is referred to as cervicogenic which means “from the neck”. With a common cervicogenic headache, pain is first experienced at the base of the posterior skull and then radiates forward into the temples, eyeballs, and/or forehead.
Typically an increased amount of stress and tension held in the shoulders causes contractions of all the surrounding neck muscles. Combine this with the poor posture that most people exhibit on a daily basis at their work desks and the muscles required to hold your head up can become overworked. When these muscles over-contract, vertebrae can become misaligned and their range of motion restricted causing pressure on spinal nerves, and ultimately pain
Once the nerves are disrupted, pain will result and muscles will contract or “guard”. While it usually manifests as physical pain, this is not always the case. In some instances, the person may experience difficulties with sleep, vision, driving, working or other routine behaviors.
How do chiropractors treat headaches?
At Compass Chiropractic, we focus on the cause of your headaches by assessing the area(s) of complaint but also looking at environmental factors such as posture, work habits and daily activities. After completing an exam, which may include x-rays, we will then determine if your condition could benefit from our treatment. Most notably are the chiropractic adjustments, which correct spinal misalignments and relieve both pressure and pain. Relief may be experienced immediately and can last for hours to days. However, long-lasting headache relief requires restoring the balance and range of motion to the spine, thus allowing the body to return to a calm state.
Will exercises help?
We know that many cervicogenic headaches are caused or exacerbated by muscular imbalances of the neck. These muscular imbalances are common in our age of technology and often times perpetuate headache symptoms. We will work with you to create an individualized stretching and exercise program that can alleviate your symptoms and prevent future headaches.
By focusing on the neck dysfunction we are actually addressing the cause of your headache; whereas the medication is merely dulling your perception of it. A report released in 2001 by researchers at Duke University (Duke University study) found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for headaches originating from the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headaches than a commonly prescribe medication. Combining the adjustments with therapeutic modalities and/or physical therapy over time is designed to eliminate the true cause of the issues behind the headaches.
If you suffer from headaches and are ready for a permanent solution, please give us a call to schedule an appointment today!