According to the latest research, 9% of men and 12% of women in the U.S. experience at least 1-2 headache episodes per month. And, more than 4% of the U.S. population suffers from frequent headaches, defined as headaches that occur at least 180 days a year. Needless to say, headaches have become a social and economic burden in the United States, as well as other parts of the world.
Scientists have identified over 300 causes for headaches. Various pain-sensitive structures and tissues including the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles, arteries, periosteal bone covering, and the upper cervical and facial nerves produce headaches when irritated or injured. Fortunately, only a handful of causes are responsible for the majority of headaches.
The most common of these headaches include:
Cervicogenic- problems within the neck
Muscle-tension- neck and upper back muscular spasms
Post-traumatic- following head/neck trauma, i.e. whiplash
Drug-induced- from analgesic overuse
Doctors of chiropractic successfully help thousands of individuals everyday obtain safe, effective, long-term relief from their headaches. This is because most headaches have a spinal, muscular, or habitual component which the chiropractor has been trained to identify and treat. In fact, surveys show that 10-25% of patients initiate chiropractic care for the relief of headaches.
Chiropractic Treatment of Headaches
Chiropractors successfully treat thousands of headache sufferers everyday. According to surveys, as many as 25% of the individuals seeking chiropractic care do so for the treatment of headaches.
Chiropractic has such good success in the treatment of headaches because most headaches are either soft tissue or neurologic in nature. Also, a significant portion of headaches originate in the tissues of the neck. And since chiropractors focus their treatment on the soft tissues of the spine, which includes the neck, the majority of headaches can be successfully managed with appropriate chiropractic care. Best of all, chiropractic treatments consist of only safe, natural, and noninvasive therapies that focus on correcting the cause of headaches, and not simply the short-term masking of symptoms.
Chiropractic treatment for headaches has been compared with other forms of treatments and in most cases, has excelled.
Headache Prevention Tips
Regular spinal checkups. Regular spinal checkups allow you to correct any structural misalignments, faulty biomechanics and spinal nerve irritation within the upper spine before serious problems develop. Practicing a “preventative” approach as opposed to a “crisis” approach is the most effective way to stay healthy.
Practice proper posture and ergonomics. Proper posture and ergonomics keeps stress to the cervical and upper thoracic spine to a minimum. Proper body biomechanics keeps irritation and injury to the pain sensitive spinal tissues to a minimum.
Avoid analgesic use. While occasional short-term analgesic use is appropriate in some cases, analgesics are not a cure and should not be used as a long-term solution to managing headaches. Proper headache management deals with correcting the cause of the headache and not simply the masking of symptoms. Furthermore, excessive analgesic use frequently has a rebound effect, ironically increasing the frequency and intensity of the headaches they are meant to treat. FYI- research has shown that 60% of all chronic headaches are drug-induced.
Proper stress management. Stress is a major trigger of headaches. If you find your stress levels are excessive, contact our office. We can assist you in appropriately managing your stress levels.
Regular exercise. Routine physical activity keeps the body and mind strong, healthy and happy. A minimum of 3 times per week for 40 minutes should be your goal. Involve friends and family, mix up the activities, keep it fun and stay consistent!
Proper diet and nutrition. Providing your body with the proper fuel through proper diet and nutrition allows the body to fight off disease and function at a higher level.
Also, if you suffer from migraines be sure to avoid foods that trigger attacks – chocolate, caffeine, nuts, MSG, foods containing nitrates, and alcohol are some to avoid.