Chiropractic and Headache Relief

By Chiro One Wellness Centers

If you’re prone to headaches—or even just have one once in a while—you know how awful they can be. A headache disrupts your day or night and makes it hard or impossible to concentrate on any task. Learn some of the common causes and hear from Dr. Lea Holcomb, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Vernon Hills about how chiropractic can help alleviate this painful and common ailment.

Stats on Headaches

Headaches occur across populations and are extremely common—according to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that around 47 percent of the adult population in the world experienced a headache at least one time in the past year. Research shows that women experience headaches more frequently than men, although scientists and researchers aren’t exactly sure why.

While there are more than 200 kinds of headaches, the “Tension Type Headache” is the most frequently seen. Episodic tension headaches reportedly affect 70 percent of some populations and 1 to 3 percent of adults suffer from chronic tension headaches. A tension headache causes pressure and dull pain around the forehead, sides or back of the head.

Migraine Headaches

If you or someone you know suffers from migraines—you know just how horrible one can be. Migraine headaches are the most severe and can completely debilitate the person suffering from one. Many people who have migraine attacks also experience other symptoms such as dizziness, sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision or even fainting. The exact cause of migraines or why they affect certain people hasn’t been pinpointed, but many Chiro One patients have experienced relief from migraines after consistent chiropractic care.

Trauma, Toxins & Thoughts

“There are many different causes of headaches—but most can be boiled down to three things: Trauma, toxins and thoughts,” explains Dr. Lea. “Trauma can include head trauma or accidental falls; toxins are chemical factors such as foods and beverages, including alcohol and food additives; and thoughts are emotional and mental factors like stress, anxiety and depression.”

Treating Headaches with Chiropractic

As you may know, chiropractors treat subluxations in the spine, which prevent proper communication from the brain to the body (think of it like only receiving the first six digits of a phone number and attempting to figure out the seventh without proper information).

Dr. Lea has seen many patients who complain of headaches and her main goal is to find each patient’s headache trigger and eliminate the source. “Frequent and consistent adjustments keep your nervous system functioning optimally and have been shown to alleviate headaches in many patients,” she states. “In addition to chiropractic care, start a journal and record foods you ate around the time of the onset of your headache, this is a great way to see if you have a food trigger—and once you find it, you can work to eliminate it. Also, keep hydrated and find good outlets for your stress such as exercise or meditation.”

7 Holistic Headache Remedies

On 3/15/2017 | By Chiro One Wellness Centers

It’s time to ditch that winter coat and embrace the new spring ahead—think fresh air, flower buds, sunny days… headaches. Sadly, they’re super prevalent this time of year. Spring’s extreme weather changes can provoke some very debilitating headaches, especially for those already suffering from chronic sinus/tension/cluster headaches and migraines. Chiropractic care is here to help, directly addressing headache problems by correcting subluxations in the spine. But what do you do in the meantime for relief? Here are 7 all-natural, holistic headache remedies to help you out.

Chamomile tea is a mild sedative. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and relaxes muscles and depresses the nervous system, providing a calming effect. It’s been known to relieve headache pain—just make sure you’re in a comfortable environment and aren’t operating any heavy machinery, because it can make you a little drowsy.

Heat and cold are no-risk therapies that anyone can do! For neck tightness (which is a very common cause of headaches) apply a little heat to the back of the neck. For those pulsing, nasty headaches, ice the temples to fight inflammation and relieve throbbing.

Peppermint oil improves blood circulation, reduces pain and relieves tension—it’s also one of the few topical treatments on our list. Take two or three drops of peppermint essential oil mixed with coconut oil and apply it to the shoulders, temples, forehead or the back of the neck. Its long-lasting cooling effect will encourage muscle contractions and stimulate blood flow.

Water is maybe the most important treatment on our list. A headache is one of the first signs of dehydration—which affects 75 percent of Americans—so go grab a bottle of water or indulge in some water-rich foods like watermelon or celery.

A cup of black coffee is a quick way to constrict the blood vessels in your head, relieving pain. However, it’s important to keep this as an occasional quick trick—using this method too often could cause a caffeine dependency, and in turn, make headaches worse and more frequent.

Massage techniques, especially utilized on the neck or the temples, can improve blood flow and help tension headaches. A gentle pressure is very effective for headache pain. And regular 30-minute massages could really help symptoms.

Feverfew is one of the most popular all-natural ways to prevent headache symptoms. It’s an herbal tea that has been utilized for centuries. It’s most active ingredient, parthenolide, is anti-inflammatory and vessel-widening, which effectively helps relieve muscle spasms and prevents blood vessel constriction in the head.

What causes headaches?

People contact our clinic and say they have suffered from headaches and want to know what I can do to help them.   They have usually tried over the counter medications, and when that didn’t help, they visited their medical doctor who put them on pain killers, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, Beta blockers, or hormone therapy.  After a while, they find they still have headaches, but now also suffer with stomach pains, constipation and nausea.

Know this – headache are not caused by a deficiency of drugs; therefore, drugs are not the answer!   We have to find the underlying cause of your headaches.  Some causes may be sinus or eye problems, vascular irregularities, food allergies, or hypoglycemia.  However, the most common cause of headaches is issues with your cervical spine (neck).  It can be as simple as muscular tension in your neck from chronic stress to as severe as a traumatic injury to your neck such as whiplash.

The cause can only be found after a thorough examination of your neck.  Once I complete my examination, I develop a specialized treatment plan based on what I find. The plan will include specific spinal adjustments with my hands or a precision instrument, which will restore normal motion to your cervical spine, decreases muscle spasms, and decreases inflammation in your joints and muscles.

It also may include Trigger Point therapy, which can relieve your headache by releasing very tight and restricted muscles in your neck. I also may recommend Acupuncture, which helps your body produce endorphins (natural pain relievers) and balances energy flow, or Cold Laser therapy, which helps decrease inflammation and allows the body to naturally heal.  I may counsel you on diet issues that might be triggering your headaches, or recommend we test and treat you for food or chemical sensitivities that can trigger headaches using our Bax Aura system.

Headaches do not have to be a way of life, and drugs are not the answer.  Give my office a call at 479-587-0227 to schedule a consultation with me to discuss way I can help you with your headaches.

 

 

The Anatomy and Physiology of Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common types of pain that people experience on a regular basis.  Researchers estimate that nine out of ten Americans suffer from headache pain at some point.  95% of women and 90% of men have had at least one in the past 12 months.  And for about 45 million of us, those headaches are chronic.

The frequency, severity and duration of headaches can vary greatly from individual to individual.  They range from occasional to near-constant and from mild to throbbing.  Some are bad enough to cause nausea and become debilitating, preventing the sufferer from working and enjoying day-to-day leisure activities.

What exactly causes headaches?

Headaches occur for many reasons.  When they arise on their own (true 90%-95% of the time), they’re referred to as “primary headaches.”  When they’re triggered as a result of some other health condition, they’re called “secondary headaches.”  Chiropractic physicians most commonly encounter three different types of headaches in their work with patients:

  • Tension headaches are primary headaches that are brought on by unrelieved muscular contractions in the head, neck and shoulders and/or a misalignment (subluxation) of the neck vertebrae.  They’re often the result of stress that cannot find an outlet.  Misalignment and muscular contractions can themselves become the source of broader tension and stress throughout the body, setting in motion a feedback loop that eventually produces a headache.  According to Dr. George McClelland, a chiropractor in Virginia, “Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture.  This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.”
  • Migraine headaches are also primary headaches.  They are sometimes referred to as vascular headaches because they happen when blood vessels in the head suddenly expand, or “dilate”.  However, we know that the nervous system and genetic factors are also leading contributors.  Sufferers report a wide range of triggers and related symptoms.  Research into the exact cause of migraines is ongoing, and the condition has stubbornly resisted efforts to find a pharmaceutical “silver bullet”.
  • Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches produced when pain begins in the neck or back of the head and is referred to the forehead or the area behind, in and around the eyes.  Trauma, chronic tension and disease are some of the more common initial sources of neck pain that is referred to the head.  Trigger points in the neck, shoulder blade and spine may also be sources of these headaches, though they can be much more difficult to identify.

What can be done to relieve headache pain?

While a wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications have been developed to relieve this pain, they generally do little to address the underlying cause of the problem.  In addition, many of these compounds can have unwanted side effects, particularly if they’re used often, over a prolonged period of time or in combination with other medicines.  A growing awareness of both the limitations and risks of pharmaceuticals has led many headache sufferers to explore alternative approaches to managing them, including chiropractic.

A large and growing body of medical research suggests that chiropractic care can be effective in preventing or reducing the frequency and severity of primary headaches.  There is also some evidence that it may have benefits for cervicogenic headache sufferers.  In a study conducted by the New Zealand government, the majority of those suffering recurrent headaches from spinal misalignment found that their headaches were relieved by chiropractic manipulation, and many were found to still be pain-free in the two-year follow-up.  A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulation such as that used by chiropractors is more effective and longer-lasting for treating tension headaches than the use of commonly prescribed pain medication.

A chiropractic physician will perform a thorough examination to identify the cause of your headache pain.  Depending on your specific circumstances, he or she may perform chiropractic manipulation or mobilization to improve the alignment of the spine, relieve muscle tension, reduce nerve irritation and improves vascular flow.  Massage and other therapies may also be included as part of a well-rounded treatment plan.  In many cases, this will relieve headache symptoms.  Your chiropractor may also offer posture and lifestyle recommendations to help prevent future headaches.  These may involve diet, exercise, sleep and stress management techniques.

Remember—if you or someone you care about suffers from recurring or chronic headaches, there are effective treatment options available that don’t involve drugs.  We encourage you to call or visit our office to learn more!