Almost everyone has dealt with headaches at some point or another. When patients first come to our office, we are often surprised to find out how many people have headaches on a regular basis, multiple headaches per week, and consider this to be “normal.” Patients are often just as surprised to learn that chiropractic can likely help with their headaches.
Although there are many different types of headaches, the headache that affects the majority of people is a tension headache. This type of headache usually starts in the back of the head, or sometimes in the neck, and spreads to the top and front of the head. Most people describe tension headaches as dull or achy, but can also be described like the feel of having your head squeezed.
In many cases, a tension headache can be caused by a problem in the neck, how is this possible? When the first vertebra in the neck, known as atlas, becomes misaligned in can put pressure on the nerves at the base of the skull. These nerves run along the back of the head, along the top of the head, and then to the forehead. Pressure on these nerves commonly leads to headaches. By properly aligning the first vertebra, via a chiropractic adjustment, chiropractors are often able to relieve a tension headache, and even keep them from returning!
Another very common type of headache is a migraine. Although many people believe that a migraine headache is just a “bad headache,” migraines actually have a very specific set of symptoms associated with them. A migraine headache usually includes a prodrome, a period of time before the headache occurs where the person knows that it is coming on. Migraines can also include an aura, which may include seeing flashes of light, vision loss, or tingling in the arms. Other symptoms include light or sound sensitivity and nausea and vomiting. Common triggers for migraines are certain foods, stress or hormonal changes. Migraine headaches often respond well to chiropractic care.
Although less common than tension and migraine headaches, cluster headaches can be extremely debilitating. Cluster headaches occur multiple times over the course of a period of weeks or months, and then may not return for months or even years. Cluster headaches are usually described as a severe piercing or burning pain that occurs on one side of the head and behind the eye. In addition to this pain, cluster headaches are often accompanied nasal discharge and a red or runny eye. Unlike migraine headaches, cluster headaches tend to appear without warning.
If your headaches are caused by misalignments in the neck, chiropractic care is a great treatment option. Only chiropractors are trained to diagnose and correct these misalignments, known as subluxations. Headaches can often be relieved, and kept from returning, by properly aligning and then maintaining alignment of the vertebra in the neck. For more information on chiropractic care, click here.
Another common cause of headaches can be degenerative or bulging discs in the neck. Degenerative discs can be identified by x-ray, while bulging or herniated discs can only be diagnosed with an MRI. If a disc problem is causing your headaches, spinal decompression may help. By stretching the neck and relieving pressure from the discs, we are often able to relieve headaches. For more information on spinal decompression, click here.
Many headaches, especially tension headaches, can be caused by poor posture and ergonomics. Even if you are receiving successful treatment for your headaches, if you do not correct the root cause of the problem, in this case poor posture, the headaches are likely to keep returning. For more information on proper office ergonomics and sleeping positions, click here.