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Chiropractic and Headaches

We ALL get headaches from time to time, whether from lack of sleep, sleeping on our neck wrong, too much computer time, or almost anything else. Headaches stink, and we usually just pop the Advil and pray it goes away. Let's check out headaches from a chiropractic standpoint:


Some of us even get headaches every single day. BUT, headaches are not normal, and should not be something you have to live with.


The first step in figuring out how to help your headaches, is figuring out what type of headache you have.


Let's breakdown each type of these headaches, what our suggestions are, and if we think we can help it or not.


 

Tension Headaches:

  • One of the most common types.

  • People get this from lack of sleep, dehydration, too much time on a computer, stress, or, obviously tension.

  • This can feel like a band around your head, causing dull pain. The pain tends to wrap around your head, and feels tight


Tension headaches can be from lack of sleep, dehydration, computers, or more.
Tension Headaches


  • What separates this from a migraine, is that tension headaches don't generally get worse with exercise

  • From a treatment perspective, typically once this headache starts, we have to wait it out. Since it is most likely from an internal causes, the best treatment is to find that internal cause. If you are dehydrated, drink some water and electrolytes. Take a nap if you are tired. Take some time away from the computer. I know this sounds easier than it is, but consistent habits can help decrease the frequency of these headaches over time.

  • I often recommend blue light filters for your computer, or blue light glasses, to help filter out the blue light and take away some eye tension.

  • The best treatment for these is prevention. Find what habit is causing these headaches, and try to fix it.


 

Cervicogenic Headaches:

  • These are headaches that originate from the cervical spine. They can come from joint inflammation, muscle tightness, or angry nerves.

  • As a chiropractor, this is the type of headache we thrive to treat. These headaches respond well to adjustments and muscle work, since we are helping relieve muscle and joint tension.

  • A common pattern we see for these type of headaches are one sided, often around the eye

Cervicogenic headaches arise from the neck and upper back muscles. They can cause headaches around the ear and eye.
Cervicogenic Headaches

  • The nerves that control this area come out on the back of your neck, so it would make sense that any pressure on these nerves, such as from tight muscles or poor posture, will cause this nerve to fire up in this pattern.

  • The best treatments include: Chirorpactic adjustments, suboccipital and neck muscle stretching, better posture, and some deep neck flexor strengthening.

 

Migraines:

  • I wish I could tell you what the single cause of migraines are, but we just don't know. There is some suggestion that it is from dilation of some internal blood vessels, but we aren't 100% sure.

  • You can diagnose a Migraine by the acronym POUND: Pulsating, One day duration (typically, anywhere from 4-72 hours), Unilateral (one side of your face/head),. Nauseating, and Disabling

  • If you've ever had a migraine, then you know that it can knock you on your feet, and all that feels good is a quiet and dark space.

  • Another common characteristic of migraines is that exercise and movement can make it worse.

  • The key to treating migraines is figuring out the root cause. You need to find your triggers, and do your best to avoid them. Some common triggers include: bright lights, loud noise, lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, caffeine, or other foods.

  • As a functional medicine doctor, I like to look at root causes of migraines. This can include hormonal, gut health, or other factors.

Migraines can have a multitude of causes, and the key is to find the root cause, and prevent future migraines.
Migraines


 

Hormonal Headaches:

  • As a female, we know just how annoying hormonal headaches can be. They can feel like they start deep inside your skull, and just ache.

  • Our hormones fluctuate during our cycles, and it is not uncommon to get headaches during our cycle from these fluctuation, especially in the last half of our cycle, when PMS starts.

  • Some common treatments include: hydration with electrolytes, magnesium supplements, and B vitamin complexes

  • I love running hormone panels on women who get hormonal headaches, so we can see if there is something off with your cycle.


 

Other common headaches include:

  • Sinus Headaches: Common during allergy season from a pressure buildup inside of the sinuses. These respond well to warm compresses, decongestants, and antihistamines

  • TMJ Headaches: Your TMJ joint, AKA your jaw joint, can get inflamed and angry, putting pressure on the areas around it, causing headaches. I like to do masseter releases on these to help take some tension off.


IF YOU GET FREQUENT HEADACHES, here are my suggestions:

  1. See a chiropractor to properly assess your cervical spine and muscles, to make sure it is not originating from there.

  2. Look into supplements: such as magnesium, B vitamins, fish oil, or other anti-inflammatories.

  3. Try to find the root cause: This can be helpful to work with a practitioner on. They can assess whether they think it is posture, hormonal, tension, or whatever the cause.

  4. Obviously follow the normal healthy lifestyle recommendations, like eat an anti-inflammatory nutritious diet, with adequate hydration. Mae sure to get the recommended amount of exercise in, as well as enough sleep. (So easy, right!)

Ready to book a visit to see if we can help?

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