Chiropractic Help for Headaches

Chiropractic Help for Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common afflictions that people around the world experience.

9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches according to the CDC. These headaches range from minor to more severe ones that can cause debilitating pain as well as light sensitivity and nausea. Migraine headache surgery may be effective for some patients dealing with chronic migraines or a similar condition known as occipital neuralgia.  However, this may not be necessary or available in many cases. Patients often turn to over-the-counter medication as a source of help. Taking medications daily can be detrimental to your health. Side effects from medication may nullify any help it is doing to return function and reduce pain. A conservative care option for chronic headaches is seeing a chiropractor, who can perform techniques that could reduce pain.

Headaches are categorized by the factors that cause them. The majority of headaches (95%) are known as primary headaches. These include tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These are not caused by another disease or condition; it is the headache itself that is the primary concern. One of the main contributing factors to primary headaches is muscle tension in the neck. Sitting at a desk all day, for example, can make muscles rigid and tense, especially if sitting with improper posture. When there is excessive pressure on the spine in an improper way, joint irritation and muscle tension increase, thus causing headaches.

Doctors of chiropractic may be able to help you if you are tired of living with recurring headache pain. Spinal manipulation can be a helpful way of reducing pain associated with headaches. It works by realigning the spine to improve function, as well as alleviating stress on the system. For headaches caused by tension in the neck, this can be an effective way of improving symptoms. A study published by the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC found that “spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications.”

Though spinal manipulation can be a helpful treatment for tension headaches, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has other recommendations to prevent getting headaches regularly.

Some of their recommendations include:

  • Stretch frequently: Sitting in one fixed position, like in front of a computer screen or looking down while reading, can cause tension headaches. Take a break and stretch at least every thirty minutes to prevent tension building up.
  • Exercise: Low-impact exercises like walking and aerobics are helpful in relieving pain associated with primary headaches. If you get throbbing headaches, the ACA suggests avoiding heavy exercise.
  • Avoid teeth clenching: The only time the upper teeth should touch the lower teeth is when swallowing. When teeth clench, the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect the jaw to the skull become stressed, leading to irritation and tension headaches.
  • Water: Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day helps to avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
  • Nutrition: After a consultation, your doctor might recommend nutritional adjustments. The addition of B complex vitamin-rich foods to your diet can be a helpful change for those who experience headaches.

Headaches are one of the many conditions chiropractors help patients with. For more information about the different services chiropractors provide, or to find one in your area, visit the American Chiropractic Association.