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The primary objective of chiropractic care is find and reduce the underlying cause of your headache.
Headaches affect just about everyone at some point and they can present themselves in many different ways. Some people only experience pain in one part of their head or behind their eyes, some people experience a pounding sensation inside their whole head, and some people even experience nausea, while others do not. The pain itself may be dull or sharp and may last for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Fortunately, very few headaches have serious underlying causes, but those that do require urgent medical attention.
Different Headaches, Different Symptoms
Patients with headache pain may pose diagnostic challenges when they present with symptoms attributable to more than one headache. It is possible to have co-existing headaches and each can amplify pain of the other. Each should be diagnosed and treated separately.
What Causes a Headache?
Causes are not completely understood but there are a wide variety of documented, attributable factors for creating headaches, such as drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tightness in the neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure stress and fatigue, the majority of headaches are of three types: tension-type, cervicogenic and migraine headaches.
In general, chiropractic care for headaches may be concurrent with pharmacological treatment or may provide and alternative to it. Chiropractic treatment has fewer side effects compared to pharmacological treatment so it should be the first intervention used when treating headaches.
A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache by nature. It is attributed to underlying neck dysfunction that results in pain referral from the neck source to the head. Symptoms include mechanical exacerbation of pain, reduced neck range of motion, focal neck tenderness, and trigger points that refer pain to the head.
Chiropractic treatment comprised of joint manipulation or mobilization is recommended for the treatment of patients with cervicogenic headaches. Deep neck flexor exercises are often added in for an additive benefit of cervical muscle activation and improving neck stability.
About 16-17% of the population gets a migraine headache sometime in their life – that means over a billion people worldwide at some point get a migraine. The majority of migraine sufferers are female, in part due to the hormonal changes, of the female reproductive system, which amplify symptoms of migraine episodes.
Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last from as little as a few hours to as long as a few days. Many of those who suffer from migraines experience visual symptoms called an “aura” just prior to an attack.
Migraine sufferers usually have their first attack before the age of 30 and they tend to run in families, supporting the notion that there is a genetic component to them.
Spinal manipulation is recommended for the treatment of patients with episodic or chronic migraines with or without aura.
Multimodal, multidisciplinary care may also be recommended for management of patients such as nutritional counseling, exercises, relaxation techniques and massage therapy. These multimodal treatments help to improve the affective symptoms potentially linked to headache pain.
Tension-type headache are the most common form of headache, yet the causes of them are not well understood.
Symptoms typically present usually include a diffuse, dull, achy feeling which can feel like a tight band or pressure along the back of your head that may travel to the sides and across your forehead. Scalp tenderness can also be noted. This pain is not aggravated by routine activities. The length of the symptoms can vary from 15minutes to months in duration for chronic tension-type headaches.
Chiropractic and massage therapy treatment for tension-type headaches can help. Low-load craniocervical mobilization has shown to be effective for tension-type headaches.
Give our Waterloo chiropractic office a call to schedule an appointment and see how we can help you or someone you know.