Do you suffer from headaches or migraines?

A headache by definition is simply pain felt in the head. Headaches are not normal. Recurring headaches are a sign that something is wrong and should not be ignored. Many headache sufferers are often misled to believe that medications are your only choice for treatment.  Tylenol, ibuprofen, and other medications may temporarily relieve the symptoms but oftentimes they do not last and they do not address the underlying cause. As long as the problem remains the headaches will return.

Headache Statistics:

– There are currently 28 million migraine sufferers age 12+ in the United States

– Nearly 1 in 4 households has at least 1 migraine sufferer.   

– The lifetime prevalence of tension type headaches is estimated at approximately 80%.

– Between 40-45% of the general population will experience a headache this year.

– An estimated 20-40 million Americans suffer from Allergic rhinitis (AR) and headaches are one of the most common symptoms of AR.

– Headaches are identified as one of the most common reason for the billions of dollars we spend each year on over the counter pain-relievers.

The first keys to solving your headaches are determining which type of headache you suffer from.

These are the 5 main types of headaches:

1) Tension

Tension headaches are the most common type, these feel like a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially at the temples or back of the head and neck. The pain usually starts in the neck and throughout the day travels into the head.  Often times following a migraine we are left with a residual tension headache.  While over the counter meds will temporarily help with these type of headaches again they do not address the underlying cause.  Chiropractic adjustments along with Active Release Technique, Graston, Proper stretching and postural advice can not only get rid of your headache but keep it away. 

2) Cluster

Cluster headaches, often affect men more than women.  They are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. They appear suddenly and are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face.

During an attack, people often feel restless and unable to get comfortable; they are unlikely to lie down, as someone with a migraine might. The cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but there may be a genetic component. With the cause being unknown it is hard to say exactly what will help to fix cluster head aches.  While over the counter meds sometimes help cut the frequency and duration chiropractic care can do the same.  During flare ups the Active Release Technique along with Chiropractic adjustments and stretching can help ease the pain and often times help spread out and prevent the next flare up. 

3) Sinus

When a sinus becomes inflamed, often due to an infection, it can cause pain. It usually comes with a fever and can be diagnosed by symptoms or the presence of pus viewed through a fiber-optic scope.

Headaches due to sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics, as well as antihistamines or decongestants. While a chiropractor can not prevent a sinus infection the can help ease the pain.  Through chiropractic adjustments and gentle lymphatic drainage, they can help get things moving to help rid your infection quicker and easier. 

4) Rebound

Overuse of painkillers for headaches can, ironically, lead to rebound headaches. Culprits include over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), as well as prescription drugs.

One theory is that too much medication can cause the brain to shift into an excited state, triggering more headaches. Another is that rebound headaches are a symptom of withdrawal as the level of medicine drops in the bloodstream.  Either way rebound headaches make it important to seek out conservative care.  With chiropractic adjustments, Active Release Technique, Graston, Postural advice, and post isometric relaxation conservative care can prevent rebound headaches all together. 

5) Migraine

Migraines can run in families and are diagnosed using certain criteria.

   – At least five previous episodes of headaches

   – Lasting between 4–72 hours

   – At least two out of these four: one-sided pain, throbbing pain, moderate-to-severe pain, and pain that interferes with, is worsened by, or prohibits routine activity

   – At least one associated feature: nausea and/or vomiting, or, if those are not present, then sensitivity to light and sound

A migraine may be foreshadowed by aura, such as visual distortions or hand numbness.  While a migraine is caused by vasoconstriction and dilation of the blood vessels in the brain there is very little a chiropractor can do to prevent or stop a true migraine. But often times we see that tension headaches are misdiagnosis as migraines. So the first key to headache treatment and prevention again is proper diagnosis.  Also similar to sinus headache the chiropractor can still help.  They can help ease the intensity and duration of a migrating by manually helping to break that cycle.  They can also help prevent a secondary tension headache that can often last days and even weeks following a migraine.  Nutritional counseling is also another viable complementary treatment to help manage your migraine.