According to the latest research, nearly 2 out of 3 children will have a headache by age 15 and more than 9 in 10 adults will experience a headache sometime in their life. Headaches are people’s most common form of pain and a major reason cited for days missed at work or school as well as visits to the doctor. Without proper treatment, headaches can be severe and interfere with daily activities. Specifically, latest research suggests that 9% of men and 12% of women in the U.S. experience at least 1-2 headache episodes per month. And, more than 4% of the U.S. population suffers from frequent headaches, defined as headaches that occur at least 180 days a year. Needless to say, headaches have become a social and economic burden in the United States, as well as other parts of the world.
Scientists have identified over 300 causes for headaches. Various pain-sensitive structures and tissues including the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles, arteries, periosteal bone covering, and the upper cervical and facial nerves produce headaches when irritated or injured. Fortunately, only a handful of causes are responsible for the majority of headaches.
The most common of these headaches include:
- Cervicogenic- problems within the neck
- Muscle-tension- neck and upper back muscular spasms
- Post-traumatic- following head/neck trauma, i.e. whiplash
- Drug-induced- from analgesic overuse
Doctors of chiropractic successfully help thousands of individuals everyday obtain safe, effective, long-term relief from their headaches. This is because most headaches have a spinal, muscular, or habitual component which the chiropractor has been trained to identify and treat. In fact, surveys show that 10-25% of patients initiate chiropractic care for the relief of headaches.
Migraines account for approximately 10% of all headaches. Researchers have found that 3.4 million females and 1.1 million males suffer from 1 migraine attack per month. Migraines follow a hereditary course, with 70% of migraine sufferers having other family members who are also affected. Migraine headaches often have coexisting muscle tension and cervicogenic factors which contribute to the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.
The pain generated by migraines has a throbbing quality and usually involves one side of the head initially. The headache tends to reach its peak intensity after about 30 minutes. Migraines are commonly accompanied by nausea and vomiting. During severe attacks, sensitivity to sound and light may occur forcing the individual to seek a dark and quiet room mandatory. The duration of the headache can vary from a few hours to 1 to 2 days.
Migraine headaches are categorized into either “common” or “classical” migraines.
Classical Migraines differ from common migraines in that the actual headache is preceded by neurologic disturbances which indicate a migraine attack is about to take place. These include alterations in the visual field (zigzag lines, blind spots, etc.), numbness or tingling of the lips or hand, problems with balance and even loss of consciousness. These neurologic disturbances generally last 15 to 30 minutes and resolve before the headache begins. In some cases, the neurologic disturbances may persist several days after the headache has resolved.
So How are Headaches Treated?
The kind of treatment for headaches you need will depend on what is causing the problem. Our chiropractic team will work diligently to find the source of your headaches. Each year millions of dollars are spent treating headaches with aspirin and other drugs. While this may help in some cases, it is often not treating the cause of the problem. Chiropractors are able to work at the source of the problem, which can help you prevent the need for headache medications. Clinical trials conducted on chiropractic’s effectiveness in the management of migraine headaches have shown remarkable improvement in many cases.
Don’t suffer with headaches and migraines. At Woolston Wellness Center our team will help you understand the cause of your condition, and the treatment necessary to fix it. Feel free to call and ask any questions that you may have.
Headache Prevention Tips
Regular spinal checkups. Regular spinal checkups allow you to correct any structural misalignments, faulty biomechanics and spinal nerve irritation within the upper spine before serious problems develop. Practicing a “preventative” approach as opposed to a “crisis” approach is the most effective way to stay healthy.
Practice proper posture and ergonomics. Proper posture and ergonomics keeps stress to the cervical and upper thoracic spine to a minimum. Proper body biomechanics keeps irritation and injury to the pain sensitive spinal tissues to a minimum.
Avoid analgesic use. While occasional short-term analgesic use is appropriate in some cases, analgesics are not a cure and should not be used as a long-term solution to managing headaches. Proper headache management deals with correcting the cause of the headache and not simply the masking of symptoms. Furthermore, excessive analgesic use frequently has a rebound effect, ironically increasing the frequency and intensity of the headaches they are meant to treat. FYI- research has shown that 60% of all chronic headaches are drug-induced.
Proper stress management. Stress is a major trigger of headaches. If you find your stress levels are excessive, contact our office. We can assist you in appropriately managing your stress levels.
Regular exercise. Routine physical activity keeps the body and mind strong, healthy and happy. A minimum of 3 times per week for 40 minutes should be your goal. Involve friends and family, mix up the activities, keep it fun and stay consistent!
Proper diet and nutrition. Providing your body with the proper fuel through proper diet and nutrition allows the body to fight off disease and function at a higher level.