HEADACHES – A CHIROPRACTIC PERSPECTIVE

What are headaches?

Headaches can be severely disabling and are among the most common conditions for which people seek help. Adults and children suffer headaches, and there are many types, but the three most common are cervicogenic, tension and migraine. Many headaches are related to the neck or muscles around the neck and head and those can often be helped by Chiropractic.

Cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headache often results from sudden neck movement or poor neck posture. Sitting at a computer for long periods can greatly contribute to the pain. Cervicogenic headache is often accompanied by weak neck muscles or restricted movement of the neck with associated neck, shoulder and arm pain. The pain experienced is often vague in nature and can include the forehead, temples and ears. Cervicogenic headache often results from whiplash, neck injury and related stress or traumas.

Tension headache

Most people describe a tension headache as a constant dull ache on both sides of the head, sometimes accompanied by a tight feeling in the head or neck muscles. The exact causes are unknown, but it is likely the pain stems from muscle contraction in the face, neck and scalp, perhaps as a result of heightened emotions, tension or stress. There are many other possible triggers including anxiety, poor posture and lack of physical activity. Tension headache may be worsened by clenching or grinding the teeth and by head trauma or whiplash injury. Those with stiff joints and muscles due to arthritis of the neck or inflammation of the shoulder joints may develop tension headache. Research shows that tension headache may result from fluctuations among certain brain chemicals including serotonin and endorphins. These changes are thought to activate pain pathways to the brain and interfere with the brain’s ability to suppress pain. Most children’s headaches fall into this category and tend to be triggered by stress, disturbed sleep patterns, certain foods and food additives or environmental factors.

Migraine

Migraine headaches are caused, in part, by changes in the brain chemical serotonin and are characterised by throbbing or pounding in the forehead, temple, ear, jaw, or around the eye. Nausea, vomiting, disturbed vision and intolerance to light may also occur. There are several triggers of migraine including foods that contain tyramine, sodium nitrate or phenylalanine such as cheese, chocolate, aged alcohol, and processed meats. Missing meals, being tired or stressed, intense physical activity and strong and unusual odours are also typical triggers.

Treatment

Unlike painkillers, Chiropractic is not a temporary headache treatment. If headaches persist, your Chiropractor will locate the source of the pain to prevent or reduce recurrence. Safe and painless Chiropractic manipulation of the neck may be performed along with muscle strengthening, stretching and relaxation exercises. Self-help advice will also be provided.

It is a common misconception that Chiropractors only treat back and neck conditions. Here are just a few of the other conditions that commonly benefit from Chiropractic care

TMJ Syndrome

TMJ syndrome comprises problems with the temporomandibular joint, located between the lower jaw and skull, and is characterised by pain and stiffness. The condition is common with nine out of ten people having at least one sign or symptom.

Arthritis

Arthritis is any inflammation of a joint. There are many types, with the two most common being Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). OA is a degenerative joint disease as the result of “wear and tear”, whereas RA is an auto-immune disease.

Nutrition

Diet is one of the most important contributors to our health. Nutritional habits and deficiencies are linked to many of today’s chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer.

Your Chiropractor will gladly provide nutritional advice.

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