Headaches and Chiropractic
If you're suffering from headaches, you're not alone. Research shows that 9 out of 10 people suffer from headaches at some point and many struggle to find a remedy that gives them relief. An occasional headache may not be extremely debilitating, but when headaches become more frequent and more severe they can really disrupt the your life. The good news is that research shows spinal manipulation (a chiropractic adjustment) and exercises for the neck and shoulder can improve the symptoms of various types of headaches. In fact, besides back and neck pain, headaches are one of the most common reasons patients present to the office.
Diagnosing a Headache
Diagnosing a headache is always the first step to formulating an effective treatment strategy. Headaches may have a variety of causes or triggers such as foods, environment triggers, or specific behaviors. The overwhelming majority of headaches are considered primary headaches, in other words, they're not the manifestation of an underlying disease or serious physical problem. In these cases the headache itself is the primary concern, and these are the headaches that chiropractic physicians have the skills at treating effectively. Remember, if we feel there's more to your headache and chiropractic treatment isn't going to be effective we never hesitate to refer you to a medical provider for further management.
The 3 Most Common Headaches we See
Tension type headaches (TTH): Also known as muscle contraction headache or stress headache these are the most common type of headache and are typically described as a "vise grip" or "band-like." Other qualities include having a tightness quality, not being aggravated by routine daily activities, and being on both sides of the head.
Cervicogenic headache: This headache is an exception, because it is actually not a primary headache. Pain in the head is actually referred from somewhere in the neck. Patients who have these often experience a stiff neck, tightness in the tissues around the neck, pain on one side of the head, and they may be able to press on a specific spot in the neck that either aggravates or relieves the head pain.
Migraine headache: Migraines are one-sided headaches and cause a throbbing sensation. Sometimes patients can feel these coming on because of visual cues such as spots and extreme sensitivity to light. These headaches may cause someone to avoid light and sound, and sometimes can cause nausea and vomiting.
Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches
Once we've diagnosed your headache, what can be done to get you out of pain? Our chiropractic physicians primarily use a combination of the following treatment get you out of pain and keep your headaches from returning.
Spinal Manipulation (Chiropractic Adjustments): This treatment restores motion to fixated and dysfunctional joints in the neck that cause an imflammatory environment in the cervical spine and head. The joints in your neck and between your head and neck need to be moving freely and correctly, and in patients with headaches they typically aren't.
Graston Technique (GT): Graston Technique is a soft tissue therapy that address fibrosis and underlying scar tissue that contribute to poor movement in the cervical spine and head. GT helps the practitioner affect the soft tissue component of your headaches, brings blood flow to the area, and addresses regional trigger points.
Personalized Corrective Exercises: Exercises are great for providing relief and correcting dysfunctional movement patterns in your neck so that you can prevent headaches bothering you in the future. We prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises for you to work on at home, this ensure you have some tools to address your headaches should they bother you again.