Chiropractic care can help with headaches as well as other conditions. If you have ever suffered from a headache, you are not alone. The majority of people worldwide will experience a headache of some kind in their lifetime. With a loss of 157 million workdays and over $50 billion dollars lost each year due to headaches alone, that’s a big deal! There are many types of headaches from mild to severe, and the causes can range from minor, like allergies, to life-threatening, such as an aneurysm. Identifying the cause of your headache and correcting it is the first step toward effective treatment and possible prevention of future ones. Below, we will touch on some of the most common types of headaches, address preventative measures, and discuss available treatment options.
Common Types and Causes of Headaches
Over 90% of headaches are tension related and cervicogenic in nature. Since this is the main type of headache, it stands to reason that the list of causes and triggers is long. A headache every once in a great while may not seem like much, but if it becomes chronic, you will want to identify the cause and correct it. Here are some of the most common causes and triggers:
- Mental or emotional stress or anxiety
- Bad posture
- Pressure on the trigeminal nerves at the top of the spine
Mental and emotional stress can create muscle tension that presses on nerves. Pressure on the trigeminal nerves at the top of the spine will cause pain in your head. Injuries can cause misalignments in your spine that, if not corrected, can cause many problems in addition to headaches. Scoliosis and other spinal deformities can also put stress on muscles and nerves causing chronic head pain.
But by far the most prolific of cause is poor posture, which, in turn, can be caused by numerous environmental factors. Too much weight in a purse, bag, or backpack can disproportionately strain certain muscles causing your posture to be misaligned or shifted to one side. Desk work and computer and cell phone use are big contributors to Upper Cross Syndrome , also referred to as tech neck or text neck, a hunched-over posture with the head and shoulders leaning forward and down. This forces your neck to support your head in a position it wasn’t designed to. Basically, anything that puts undue stress on the spine or certain muscles making them work harder or in a way they weren’t meant to can lead to chronic headaches and other problems if it isn’t corrected. Chiropractic care can help with headaches of this nature.
Migraine headaches are more intense and can cause nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity among other symptoms. These are not as common as tension-related headaches, but tension headaches can often exacerbate them. Migraines affect more women than men and can also be hereditary. Some of the more common causes or triggers include the following:
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Food sensitivities
Persistent stress seems to be a running theme when it comes to causes, and migraines are no exception. Caffeine withdrawal, especially if you are used to taking in high amounts, is another one to watch out for. For women, hormones can often be a culprit especially if headaches are occurring cyclically. Other factors like smoking, certain foods, weather, and altitude can all be a possibility as well. Keeping a migraine diary can be helpful in identifying your triggers.
It’s important to note that aneurysms can mimic migraines or cluster headaches but are much more serious and often life-threatening. Extreme hypertension is a precipitating factor is this. If you suffer from intense headaches and have high blood pressure, be sure to bring it up with your doctor.
Other Types and Causes of Headaches
Hypertension headaches are predominately caused by high blood pressure. Finding the cause of your high blood pressure and properly managing or lowering it is key to reducing or eliminating this type.
Sinus and allergy headaches tend to be lumped in the same category by sufferers. Some causes are sinus infections, deviated septum, seasonal allergies, and drastic weather changes.
TMJ headaches are jaw related. A poor bite that goes uncorrected, or mental/emotional stress that causes jaw clenching or teeth grinding can put constant pressure on muscles throughout the head and neck area causing head pain.
Hormone-related headaches don’t always cause full-on migraines. They can just be a chronic source of regular head pain. Hormone imbalances can also create other health issues, so identifying and correcting them can help with more than just your headaches. Food sensitivities can also be a culprit.
Eye strain headaches are generally caused by an eye muscle imbalance, uncorrected vision, or astigmatism.
Long-Term or Chronic Issues
Long-term or chronic headaches could be a sign of a loss of cervical lordosis curve leading to early-onset spinal degeneration. This is not reversible, so it is essential that you identify and correct any injuries or misalignments as soon as possible. This is good advice no matter the type of headache. The sooner you correct a root cause, the sooner you can have relief from your headaches and stop progressive damage.
Headache Prevention, Self-Care, and Treatment
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being aware of the possible causes of headaches and how to avoid or alleviate them is certainly the most optimal option.
- For the majority of tension-related headaches, stretching can help tremendously.
- Changing to a more ergonomic setup can also help significantly if you spend a lot of time at a desk or computer.
- Start a headache diary and keep track of events and health issues that can lead you to the cause of chronic headaches.
Health-Fit Corporate Wellness offers these tips to help prevent tension headaches and other problems that are connected to sitting and working in today’s office environments:
- Cut back on phone calls and emails to coworkers. When you
need to speak to a coworker, walk to his/her work space.
- If you must take a phone call, stand during it.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Consider getting a standing desk and change your working position throughout the day.
- At home, stand up and walk around every time a commercial comes on the TV.
The most common treatment options typically offered are over-the-counter or stronger prescription medications. Unfortunately, these options come with their own set of problems in the form of short-term and long-term side effects, and they really just mask the real source of the problem instead of fixing it. They also put you at risk of rebound headaches, headaches that come back even stronger as a result of taking the over-the-counter drug.
There are several ways to treat or prevent headaches without resorting to medications. In addition to the options previously mentioned, physical therapy and massage can be particularly beneficial. It’s been shown that chiropractic care can help with headaches and can be one of the most effective treatments. Chiropractors look to correct the cause of a patient’s health problems, rather than give more prescription drugs, which only treat and mask symptoms.
Headache and Chiropractic
Chiropractic has a unique healing approach. Chiropractors are the only doctors trained to analyze your spine (which controls the function of all organs, cells, tissues, and muscles in the body) for the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC), which can affect other areas of your body, tissues, muscles, cells, and organs.
Additionally, the researchers found that treatment plans of 8–16 visits provided a significant reduction in pain scores. This reflects what we have seen in our practice. Improving cervicothoracic motion, decreasing inflammation, and establishing better posture with enhanced core muscle strength are essential components of helping people win their battle against daily headaches.
If you suffer from headaches, contact Dr. Dave today to see how chiropractic care can help alleviate that pain.