Headaches constitute 18 million doctor’s office visits each year in the U.S. Pain relievers are most common to treat headache symptoms, however many medications can have side effects and are merely a temporary bandage for the underlying cause. A more natural and holistic approach to managing chronic headaches and migraines, chiropractic can find the underlying cause, reduce frequency and alleviate symptoms.
When seeking chiropractic treatment for headache or migraine, it is helpful to know your symptoms. It’s a good idea to keep a journal if you suffer from chronic headaches noting internal and external surroundings. The journal may help you and your chiropractor identify the issue(s) causing your headache or migraine. Be aware of when you get your headache, what you were doing just prior to the onset of pain, foods and drink you have had during the days leading up to the pain, sleep patterns and even the weather. Also note the location and severity of your pain. Is it a dull ache or a sharp pain? Is the pain constant or intermittent?
What Causes a Headache?
Muscular tension, vascular changes, nerve pressure, eyestrain and sinus congestion are some of the causes of headache. The pain can be mild to severe to the point of causing nausea. There are primary headaches (tension and migraine) and secondary headaches which are symptoms caused by illness or disease. The three types of headaches commonly seen in chiropractic offices are tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are caused by pain transmitted to the head from the bony or soft tissues of the neck.
Chiropractic and Tension Headaches
Emotional stress or injury is the usual cause of tension headache. Chronic stress can lead to stresses on the skeletal structure of the body, causing changes in tension and contraction of the muscles in the shoulders, head and neck. Posture and movement compensate due to these changes.
Chiropractic adjustments, sometimes combined with other therapies such as trigger point therapy and massage, can release muscular tension and realign the skeletal structure. Headache sufferers often find relief with just a few chiropractic treatments—their muscles relax providing a better environment for optimal nervous system communication.
Chiropractic and Migraine Headaches
There have been many studies on migraine headaches. These vascular headaches occur when the blood vessels in the head suddenly dilate. And though we know how it happens, there is no clear reason why it happens. Hormonal changes, foods, weather, and stress are some of the known triggers that cause migraines. And, unlike tension headaches, migraines generally begin with the onset of sensitivity to noise (light and sound), nausea, or visual impairment. Intense pain follows.
Chiropractic treatment for migraines can reduce the severity and preliminary clinical studies suggest chiropractic treatments may play a role in preventing migraines altogether. Through manipulation and adjustments of the spine and neck, migraines can often be reduced or prevented. Nerves control vascular system tension, and chiropractic adjustments reduce irritation of the nervous system, also improving vascular flow.
What to Expect with Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches and Migraines
A common chiropractic treatment for headache is spinal manipulation. Just as it sounds, the chiropractor manually adjusts your spine to better align your vertebrae to ease any swelling and tension in between your discs. Why? This realignment relieves your nerves of pressure, allowing for optimal communication of the central nervous system.
Dr. Levitz will perform a full assessment of your headache or migraine symptoms to determine the best treatment approach which may include: spinal adjustments or soft tissue therapy (trigger point stimulation, myofascial release). The goal is to improve vascular flow, reduce nerve irritation, and relieve muscle tension through a comprehensive, holistic treatment plan. Dr. Levitz may also provide you with posture correction exercises and other exercises to do at home.
Call 805-646-0105 to schedule your assessment at Levitz Family Chiropractic and be on your way to wellness!