By Dr. Brian Filisky
If you have a headache, you are not alone. 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. While some people have occasional headaches, others struggle with more frequent, sometimes daily headaches. They are, at times, dull and throbbing, or quite debilitating, causing pain and nausea. What do you do? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.
Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck (cervicogenic). Recent studies have found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improve outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain, headaches, and migraines.
Headaches may have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5% of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95% of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, American’s engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
Your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
• Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
• Provide nutritional advice, recommending dietary changes and discussing the importance of water and proper hydration. Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
• Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help the patient’s in many ways beyond just treatment for lowback pain. They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body and they can take steps to relieve those problems.