Headaches are very common. One out of every six Americans complains of a headache every year. Migraines are less common. Approximately 1.7% - 4% of the population suffers from migraines. In both cases, dealing with a headache or migraine can be painful and can interfere with your everyday life, especially if they become a chronic problem. If you are wary of taking too many painkillers, a chiropractor can help to treat your headache or migraine and help to prevent them from coming back.
Cervicogenic headaches are the least common form of headache and the pain doesn't actually originate in the head. Instead, it starts at the neck or base of the skull and then radiates to the head, on one side only. You may also experience pain in the shoulder and arm of that side of your body as well.
Painkillers and other medications don't tend to work very well for cervicogenic headaches but chiropractic care, and in particular manipulation of the cervical spine (the top part of the spine) is an effective method for treating the condition. Your chiropractor may also recommend joint mobilization and deep neck flexion exercises as they can also help.
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache and the pain usually stems from muscle tension in the neck. While pain medications can work for tension headaches, many patients prefer to address the problem directly rather than just focusing on the symptoms.
To treat tension headaches, your chiropractor is likely to create a treatment plan with a range of different approaches. This is because tension headaches can be influenced by a range of different lifestyle factors.
Trigger point therapy can help to reduce the tension in your muscles, as can chiropractic stretches. Gentle cervical spine manipulation can also help to reduce tension in your neck and stop the pressure on your nerves.
This will directly help to reduce your pain. But to prevent tension headaches from coming back, your chiropractor may help to address other factors that could be triggering your tension headaches. A major reason why your neck muscles may become tense is due to stress, and your chiropractor will be trained in how to help you reduce your stress levels as well as relaxation techniques.
They may also give you ergonomic advice, such as addressing your posture when you are at work, to stop your neck from being in an uncomfortable position for too long and causing a tension headache.
Chronic migraines can cause real disruption to your life. They are often chronic and they are much more than a headache alone. People dealing with migraines are also likely to experience other symptoms such as nausea/vomiting, dizziness, neck pain, vision problems, and more.
There is no cure for migraines but people who live with migraines can reduce their intensity and frequency by avoiding triggers. Migraine triggers can be different for everyone, and they can include eating certain foods, being dehydrated, being around bright lights, and even air pressure changes. Your chiropractor will be able to help you come up with a plan for identifying and avoiding your migraine triggers.
Reducing your stress can also help to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines and, again, your chiropractor will be able to help you with relaxation techniques. Trigger point therapy can reduce the pressure on the nerves in your neck, which can also help to reduce your migraines.
Cervical spinal manipulation can also help some patients with migraines. One study found that 22% of patients who received cervical spinal manipulation experienced a reduction in their frequency and over half found that their migraines didn't last for as long.
Managing migraines via chiropractic care involves taking a broad approach that uses a variety of therapies and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of migraine and reduce the severity of the migraines when they do occur.
The bottom line
There are a variety of causes for headaches, and the treatment plan developed by your chiropractor to treat your headaches will be based on the type of headache that you are experiencing. Chiropractic care is a holistic approach that takes account of everything you are experiencing and this approach can help to reduce your chances of developing headaches, rather than simply dulling the symptoms when they do occur.