Headaches & What Causes Them?
Headaches are no fun. Statistics suggest that 80-90% of people suffer headaches at some point in their lives, and one person out of six experiences a headache in a given year. They can range from minor inconveniences to full-blown, painful and debilitating migraines.
Three Types of Headaches
Only about 5% of headaches are symptoms of greater health issues. The remaining 95% are primary headaches: they aren’t caused by an underlying condition, they’re simply, unpleasantly, headaches. They’re triggered by a variety of factors including: environmental stimuli (noise, lights, smells, foods); individual behaviors (insomnia, stress, posture, hunger); and individual chemistry (hormones, blood sugar changes).
Most primary headaches fall into the category of tension headaches, which are uncomfortable but not debilitating: they don’t impact your balance, vision or strength and you can generally persist in daily activities. This category of headache relates to muscular pressure, strain or stress in the neck. Neck tension is typically the tip of the iceberg, and is actually connected to tension, rigidity and/or poor circulation in the upper back, head and jaw areas.
Our sedentary lifestyles make us prone to tension headaches, because we spend far more time in a fixed posture than is healthy for us, which promotes tension and joint irritation in the upper back and neck.
Cluster headaches are another category, characterized by pain dominating either the right or the left side of the head along with corresponding nasal congestion or watering eyes. They may occur regularly, even daily, for weeks or months at a time. Their discomfort is comparable to migraines, but they aren’t as long lasting. The cause is uncertain, but they’re associated with the trigeminal nerve in the face.
Lastly, there’s migraine headaches, which are typically one-sided and pulsating, with increased sensitivity to light and/or noise. They range from moderately to severely painful, may be accompanied by nausea, and worsen with activity. Their cause is uncertain, but may be linked to nerves or the vascular system.
Treatment for Headache Pain
Research shows that chiropractic can be an effective treatment for all three of these types of headaches.
According to a 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), common chiropractic interventions improved outcomes in the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used. In 2011 a JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraines and headaches originating in neck tension.
When you seek chiropractic treatment for your headache, your practitioner may perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and relieve muscular stress.
Headache symptoms stemming from the trigeminal nerve may be related to misalignment in the cervical region of the spine; where the nerve connects. Realigning that region of the spine via a chiropractic adjustment may prevent future cluster headaches. Further, a spinal exam will show whether misaligned vertebrae, a condition known as subluxation, may be interfering with nerve function.
Other treatment options your chiropractor may propose include advice on nutrition, posture and ergonomics, as well as exercises and relaxation techniques.
If you experience frequent or severe headaches, take action to resolve the problem. Make an appointment with your chiropractor for an examination. Your doctor can help pinpoint the possible cause and offer informed treatment options. If you know loved ones who suffer from headaches, share this article with them and encourage them to act. Painful, annoying headaches don’t need to be a fact of life–relief may be as close as Life Wellness Center.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our doctors and find out what’s behind your headaches!