Can Chiropractic Care Help With Headaches?
Because of the fact that 95% of headaches are caused by something other than a serious medical condition, chiropractors are able to treat most headaches with adjustments and non-invasive treatments.
Often times, headaches are the result of misaligned or tightened muscles and joints in the neck. These headaches are called “cervicogenic” headaches, and while they can be painful and bothersome, are easily treated with chiropractic manipulation and soft tissue massage.
Chiropractic care is gaining popularity for the treatment of headaches, as pharmaceutical drugs are becoming a last resort. Studies have proven the success of chiropractic treatment in relieving headache pain quicker and more effectively than medication. One such study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (1995) showed that improvements were just as effective with chiropractic treatment as with headache medication, and patients suffered fewer side effects. This study also showed that after a four week follow up, patients that were treated with chiropractic care maintained their level of improvement, whereas many of those treated with headache medication had a recurrence of headaches similar to those before treatment.
Different Types Of Headaches:
- Tension headaches
- Cervicogenic headaches
- Migraine headaches
- Sinus headaches
- Chronic or episodic headaches
- Trauma related headaches
- Jaw related headaches
Symptoms can overlap the types of headaches, so talk with your chiropractor about your headaches. They will ask you about your symptoms in order to help you determine which type(s) of headache you suffer from and what type of treatment will be best for you.
How Can Headaches Be Treated?
Traditionally, headaches have been treated with medication. This temporarily relieves the pain by treating the symptoms, but the cause of the headaches remains and the patient often complains of recurrent headaches.
Together, you and your chiropractor can determine the type of headaches you are having, the causes, and an effective course of treatment, without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. While your treatment will be catered to your specific needs, it may include any combination of the following:
- Massage of related neck muscles
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Postural improvements
- Dietary/Nutritional advice
- Lifestyle advice
What Are “Cervicogenic” Headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches are one of the most common types of headaches and the least complicated to treat, as they are often the result of simple subluxations of the spine. Cervicogenic headaches are typically treated with chiropractic manipulation, massage, and postural exercises.
Cervicogenic headaches are characterized by the following qualities, though the severity may vary:
- Dull or aching pain in the head
- Neck pain or tenderness in a specific area
- Restricted movement of the neck
- Increased pain in the head or neck with certain movements
- History of neck trauma
How Do You Prevent Recurring Headaches?
While some headaches and situations may be out of your control, you can take the following steps to try to decrease further headaches:
- Take frequent breaks for stretching and walking while on long car rides
- Sleep on a firm mattress and a comfortable supportive pillow
- Correct your posture when necessary:
- Stand straight
- Relax shoulders
- Don’t slouch
- Take advantage of ergonomics where possible
- Use proper lighting to read
- Practice relaxation techniques frequently