Headaches and Migraines
Chiropractic offers great relief to many headache sufferers. Problems with the neck, jaw and muscles are common causes of headaches and migraines that can be helped by methods other than medication. In fact, it is now recognized that many headaches can actually be the result of the overuse of pain medications. These headaches are known as ‘rebound’ or ‘medication induced headaches’.
- Headaches are one of the most common reasons people seek health care.
- 15% of the population suffers from migraines, while 36% of the population suffers from chronic headaches and the incidence is increasing.
- New studies show an alarming increase in both tension and migraine headaches in children, with nearly 6% getting migraines and 50% getting occasional headaches.
- The 1994 Consumer Reports stated that “Headache was the health condition for which there was the highest level of dissatisfaction with treatment.”
- 50% of headache patients are given no specific diagnosis and are prescribed medication simply for pain relief.
- The largest single factor favoring the transformation of occasional headache was the overuse of prescription and over the counter medications.
Most headaches have one or more triggers as the cause. Any serious pathologies or diseases must first be ruled out. To have real success you must treat the cause not the symptoms.
- Mechanical/Nerve irritation – problems in the spine, jaw (TMJ) and muscles are a major and often neglected cause of headaches.
- Foods – chocolate, red wine, cheddar cheese, MSG, caffeine and nitrates are common migraine triggers.
- Behaviors – stress, too much/too little sleep, missing meals, poor posture.
- Environmental – bright lights, noise, strong odors.
- Hormonal – periods, estrogen replacement therapy.
Current Research on Headaches
- Otto Sjaastad, neurologist stated, “ The cervical spine is a major source of headaches. These spinal headaches may be identical to migraines.”
- Peter Rothbart, M.D., head of a large headache center in Toronto said, “ Chiropractors were right. Most headaches come from the neck.”
- New studies show chiropractic care to be more effective and longer lasting than Tylenol and a commonly used prescription drug.
- Look at the person as a whole and look for headache triggers.
- Adjust the spine to correct dysfunction and relieve nerve irritation.
- Soft tissue therapy to involved muscles.
- Corrective exercises, along with postural, ergonomic and stress advice.
- Nutrition – eliminating trigger foods and appropriate use of vitamins and herbs (for some types of migraines).
- Working with other health professionals if indicated.