One of the most common problems patients complain about in my office is headaches… Migraines, cluster and tension(stress) headaches are caused by a variety of different things, and at times it’s the elimination of those things that brings relief. Often they have had headaches for YEARS but just assumed they were ‘normal’. They’re not. While headaches are common, they’re not normal. Headaches are a sign that something’s wrong, and taking a pain-killer or aspirin doesn’t eliminate the problem…it merely covers it up.
Since there are many different kinds of – and reasons for – headaches, it’s really a matter of the characteristic of the headache that will classify it: Migraines, cluster, tension, hormonal, withdrawal, rebound, etc. (For headaches associated with concussions go here) For the sake of argument, we’ll cover just a few here.
Migraines – are usually of a piercing quality and usually are located throughout the head without respect to side. They are typically preceded by what’s called a “prodrome” – which is some kind of precipitating factor usually 20-30 minutes prior – in the form of nausea, photophobia, sensitivity to sound or even vomiting.
Cluster – these headaches are typically short bursts of headaches over the course of days or weeks and can be quite severe. Their is usually a quick onset, and at times they will subside anywhere from an hour to 6 hours without medication, but then will repeat.
Tension(Stress) – These are headaches typically felt as a result of poor posture and are felt in the back of the head. They are also often experienced in the latter aspect of the day and can also subside once the causative agent is corrected(poor posture, ergonomic correction, etc). Quite often, these headaches are also experienced after auto accidents, considering the muscles in the back of the neck become strained.
Diagnosis of headaches is mostly thru characterization as described above combined with a detailed history. Social, environmental, dietary, work and postural habits need to be evaluated as other possible triggers for headaches. I’ve been around patients who have been suffering for years and never knew they could get relief simply by having their posture corrected or back and neck adjusted. They simply called their headaches “normal” and popped pills for them. Keep in mind: Pain is COMMON, it’s not “normal”…it’s telling you something is wrong.
Again, keep in mind that there are MANY different causes for headaches(too many to list here), and none should be taken lightly. They all need to be fully evaluated and followed-up on, but for the simplicity of this page, we’ll limit it to kinds that have been found to respond favorably to chiropractic care. Over the nearly 20 years I’ve been in practice, I’ve taken pride in my ability to evaluate and treat different kinds of headaches – especially chronic ones. The relief one can gain is life-changing – for the BETTER!
Treatment of the cervical spine is usually the approach to headaches, although referred pain from muscles in the upper back can be another site of care. With most types of treatment rendered, a patient will most likely report a positive change in the frequency, intensity, location or duration of their headaches after a few weeks, depending on how long the patient has been suffering. But the elimination of such a controlling and frequent pain can only enhance one’s quality of life!!