Headaches and Chiropractic Treatment

different-headachesCan headaches be serious?  A headache is no stranger to most people.  One estimate shows that 9 out of 10 people experience headache at some point in their lives.  In Australia alone, about 2.2 million reported having headaches but only 15% was taking medication to relieve the pain and distress.  Some headaches are mild but annoying, localized pain whilst some are chronic, recurring headache that are debilitating and intense.  To find relief, if only temporary, most of us take pain relievers.

If you have a headache, you’re not alone.  The Journal of Clinical Neuroscience in 1998 published a study that showed individuals suffering from headache and migraine don’t  consult a healthcare provider immediately instead they would seek advice from general practitioners (23%), pharmacists (11%), dentists (7%), chiropractors (4%), medical specialists, physiotherapists, eye practitioners, and masseurs (each 2%).


What are the Different Types of Headaches?

To find the best treatment for headache, it will help to understand what causes most headaches including their types.

  1. Primary Headaches – This category also called chronic daily headaches or chronic non-progressive headaches, which are common among adults and adolescents. Migraine and tension headaches are common examples in this category.
  2. Secondary Headaches – Headaches in this category may be caused by problems elsewhere in the head or neck. Common examples are brain freeze, stroke, dehydration, influenza, and concussion.  Simple medical conditions like dental pain from infected teeth or an infected sinus are also part of this category.  More serious secondary headaches include bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
  3. Cranial Neuralgias, Facial Pain & Other Headaches – The most commonly recognized example in the category is trigeminal neuralgia or episodes of intense pain in the face, originating from the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve that can trigger severe facial pain and distort a face causing the head to move away from the pain.


Causes and Symptoms of Headache

Did you know that about 95% of all headaches are primary headaches (tension, migraine, or cluster headaches) and roughly 5% are warning signals caused by physical problems?  The most common cause of headache is prolonged tension or stress.  These may include certain types of food, environmental stimuli like noises, stress, or lights, and existing conditions like hormonal changes, insomnia, changes in blood sugar, engaging in excessive exercise.

Headaches are rarely a sign of a serious or life threatening health problems.  But some are very painful, and debilitating.  Although they may appear serious and wrong, some headaches are usually not due to dangerous conditions.  Headaches that are usually serious can be caused by very severe high blood pressure (above 180/110 mm Hg), stroke, brain tumour, or an aneurysm (a dilated weakened blood vessel) in the brain may cause headaches.  Warning signs of a dangerous condition include a headache that gets worse over days or weeks that strikes suddenly with great intensity and accompanied by:

  • by fever, stiff neck
  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • seizures, mental disturbances, and loss of consciousness
  • impaired neurological function (loss of balance, weakness, numbness, or speech disturbance) and double vision

Can a Chiropractor really get rid of my headaches?

When it comes to the underlying cause of headaches both health care providers and patients are searching for answers.  Figures show that only one in 11,200 patients with headache have a problem that shows up on expensive tests such as MRI or CT scans to try to visualize the cause of the headache.  Several studies show that chiropractic care may be an effective option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.  It may also serve as a good preventive treatment for migraines as shown by results of 22 studies with more than 2,600 patients suffering from headache.

Doctors of Chiropractic are concerned with correcting any neuromusculoskeletal source of your headache.  To determine whether the symptoms may be alleviated by chiropractic care, a special spinal examination is normally performed by the chiropractor.  The examination can also ascertain whether the problem (called a subluxation) may be caused, or aggravated by any misaligned vertebrae in the spine which could have irritated or created undue nerve interference.  Chiropractic care can help prevent unnecessary tension and/or irritation in the neck and head.  To establish this fact, a study of 87 headache patients treated with chiropractic adjustments over a two-year period showed significant improvement.  Migraine stopped or was much improved among 85% of the females and 50% of the males.

Are you suffering from headache?  Does your condition require the attention of health care specialists, specifically a chiropractor?  Well, every headache patient is an individual case and may require special instructions or recommendations from a health care provider or chiropractor.  Consult your chiropractor now to know your options.


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