Headaches are a very common affliction in the world today. Part of the reason that so many people suffer from occasional to chronic headaches is the multitude of ‘triggers’ that exist. Headache triggers differ from person to person. For some, eating certain types of food may result in pain. Environmental stimuli such as loud noises, bright or dim lighting or high stress levels are known to cause headaches. They can also be a result of certain behaviors as well. Getting too much or too little sleep, exercising excessively, and having changes in blood sugar levels can induce headaches. The most common types of headaches, referred to as ‘primary headaches’, include tension, cluster and migraine headaches. Because tension headaches are often a result of muscle tension in the upper back or subluxations in the cervical spine, they can be treated effectively by chiropractors.
Due to technological advances, we are spending more time sedentary than ever before. When sedentary, and especially when hunched over a computer, the muscles of the upper back and neck spend more time a in a fixed position leading to muscle tension. Tense muscles can pull vertebrae out of proper alignment resulting in a subluxation. When this occurs, the nerves, muscles and the blood supply to the head are all affected. The misalignment can irritate nerve roots in the cervical spine and minor constriction of blood vessels supplying oxygenated blood to the brain leading to headaches. To treat this, chiropractors perform spinal manipulation to help improve spinal function and alleviate stress on the system. Spinal restrictions can cause damage to nerves, tissue inflammation and cause muscles to tighten and knot. Chiropractors can also perform soft tissue work on the upper back and neck to relieve tension in the muscles. Relief from headache pain can be immediate following a chiropractic appointment. Chiropractic care provides a drug free solution to headaches. Taking drugs that numb your nervous system and block pain may provide relief during a headache, but they can have cumulative adverse effects to the kidneys and liver. They also do not treat the underlying causes of the headache, they only provide temporary relief.
If you can not visit a chiropractor, there are several ways to prevent headache onset. If you are sitting for a long period of time, it is suggested that you stretch your head and neck through a reasonable range of motion at least every hour. Walking and other low impact activities can help to prevent and ease headache pain. Drinking a lot of water to avoid dehydration is also suggested. One of the most important prevention measures is to maintain good posture while sitting and standing. This prevents excess tension on the muscles and helps keep the spine in its proper alignment. While sleeping, it is important that the head is supported so that it is level with your spine. The neck can also be supported with a cervical pillow.
American Chiropractic Association: https://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=2186
Sauganash Wellness: http://www.sauganashwellness.com/headache.html
Try Chiropractic First: http://www.trychiropracticfirst.com/headaches.php
St. Lawrence University '15
Mirror Lake Chiropractic Intern