There are many spinal stenosis treatment options you should consider before resorting to surgery. Most patients with spinal stenosis respond well to non-surgical treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and gentle chiropractic care. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, typically caused by age, injury, or congenital disorder. The condition can cause difficulty […]
Headaches are a very common health complaint. Sometimes, headaches are mild. Other times they can be frequent and severe, disrupting your life at home and work. Fortunately, chiropractic care for headaches can provide effective, drug free headache pain relief.
It’s important to take headaches seriously. You should see your doctor if your headache pattern changes, or if your headaches are getting worse.
Seek emergency care if you have any of these signs and symptoms:
- An abrupt, severe headache, often like a thunderclap
- Headache with a fever, nausea or vomiting, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, numbness, or speaking difficulties, which may signal a number of serious conditions such as stroke, meningitis, encephalitis or brain tumor
- Headache after a head injury, even if it’s a minor fall or bump, especially if it gets worse.
- A sudden, severe headache unlike any other headache you’ve experienced
- Headache that gets progressively worse over days and changes in pattern
Overuse of Pain Relief Medication Can Actually Cause More Headaches
If you have frequent headaches, you should know that repeated use of pain relievers can cause another type of headache, overuse headaches.1 Medication-overuse headache (MOH) is clinical diagnosis. It’s classified as a secondary disorder affecting patients who use pain relieving medication (OTC or prescription) more than two to three days per week.
The bad news: the most effective treatment for MOH is to stop using pain relieving medication.2
The good news: chiropractic care for headaches can help many different types of headaches. Current evidence suggests that chiropractic care, including manual therapy, can be effective in treating cervicogenic and tension headaches. Studies have also shown that chiropractic care can help decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines.3
Different Types of Headaches
Chiropractic care is very effective at helping to manage tension headaches. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Sometimes, a dull, aching pain is a tension headache. You may feel tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head. You may also feel tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles.
Sometimes the pain of tension headaches can be so severe that it is difficult to distinguish it from a migraine. To make matters worse, it’s possible to suffer from both tension headaches and migraine headaches.
It’s rare to have migraine like visual disturbances, nausea or vomiting with tension headaches. However, like migraines, you may experience an increased sensitivity to either light or sound with a tension headache.
One way to tell if it’s a migraine or a tension headache is that physical activity often makes migraine pain worse, while it doesn’t for tension headaches.
Tension headaches are often due to a combination of stress and back or neck strain. That’s why chiropractic care has been proven to help provide relief for these headaches.
Migraine headaches are serious. They are surprisingly common and a leading cause of disability.4 Studies show that chiropractic care can help relieve migraine pain by reducing muscle tension and correcting postural strain on soft tissues. Study authors suspect that spinal manipulations also activate descending pain inhibitory pathways responsible for pain modulation.5
There is no cure for migraine headaches. Unfortunately, many medications used to treat migraine have alarming and disabling side effects. As a result, more people who are suffering from migraine headaches are turning to alternative care options such as chiropractic care. 6
Cluster headaches are a rare but devastating form of non-life threatening headaches. These headaches occur in cycles with each cycle lasting weeks to months. They are also called “suicide headaches” because of the extreme pain that they cause.
Cluster headaches result when the trigeminal nerve is pinched, compressed, or shifted improperly due to a spinal misalignment. This is why chiropractic care is ideally suited to treat cluster headaches.
During the cluster headache cycle, headaches can happen as frequently as every day and last for a few minutes to a few hours. After going through a cycle of cluster headaches, the sufferer will go into a period of remission. During this period of remission no headaches will occur. A period of remission can last anywhere from several months to years.
Because of the cycles of intense pain, patients who suffer from cluster headaches can be emotionally raw by the time they seek treatment. These headaches are severe and have earned the nickname suicide headaches for a reason.
TMJ headaches are caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Less severe TMJ problems can cause annoying and sometimes painful clicking. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can cause a painful headache with a dull, aching pain in and around the ear. In some cases, the pain travels to the side of the scalp, back of the head or down into the neck. Tenderness in the jaw area and neck is common in these kinds of headaches. TMJ dysfunction is often made worse by chewing, excessive talking or yawning.
Chiropractors can provide significant relief of the pain caused by TMJ dysfunction by manipulation. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that the jaw can be adjusted. Adjusting the jaw is a delicate procedure that requires a skilled hand using a very light technique or gentle chiropractic care. Because of the finesse involved, there usually isn’t the satisfying “clunk” which accompanies many other joint manipulations.
Gentle Chiropractic Care for Headaches
Gentle chiropractic care replaces high-velocity adjustments with low-velocity, low amplitude manipulations. It is performed with a gentle touch, targeting a specific area. Gentle chiropractic care is more comfortable and provides maximum benefit from minimal visits.