Did you know that approximately 47% of the adult population experienced headaches in the last year? Headaches are one of the top 3 reasons for visits to a chiropractor. You may think you can manage your headache with over-the-counter medication, but that’s merely putting a bandaid on it. A chiropractor can identify the cause and treat it, thereby offering long-term relief.
There are many different kinds of headaches, and accordingly, there are a variety of ways to prevent and treat them. Some of the most common kinds of headaches include migraine with or without aura, tension type headaches, and cervicogenic headaches (headaches originating from the neck). When you visit your chiropractor for help with a headache, they will perform a thorough history and physical exam including a cranial nerve exam in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, rule out any red flags, and ensure you receive the most appropriate care for your condition.
Migraines can be classified as either with or without an aura. An aura is a set of reversible, focal neurological symptoms that can develop over 5-20 minutes before the onset of the migraine and last for less than an hour. Some examples of symptoms that can be experienced in an aura include visual symptoms such as flickering lights, lines, spots or loss of vision, sensory symptoms such as pins and needles or numbness, speech disturbances, and motor weakness. Migraines typically begin in childhood and are 3 times more common in women. Classically, migraines are experienced as a pulsing pain present on one side of the head and are typically accompanied by nausea as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Common triggers for migraines are hormonal changes, specific foods, and stress. One of the most helpful ways to combat migraines is to keep a headache diary in which you track your activities and the foods you eat in order to pin point what brings on your migraine so it can be avoided in the future. In the event that the migraine is not caught in time, recent literature supports the use of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) in the treatment of migraine headaches. So don’t hesitate to visit your chiropractor for some relief!
Tension type headaches often begin before the age of 10 and are once again more common in women. These headaches are experienced as a sensation of a tight band around the head. The musculature around the head, shoulders, neck, face, scalp, and jaw are common culprits of tension type headaches. These muscles can be easily treated with chiropractic care to alleviate your headache!
Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that are originating specifically from joints in the neck. These headaches can be brought on from trauma such as whiplash, or can be simply postural. The headache can be easily identified and reproduced in the chiropractor’s office, and current literature supports the use of SMT in their treatment.
Don’t suffer through this holiday season. Give us a call so we can help ease your aches and pains and make it a very happy holiday!
Dr. Julia Callaghan, B.Sc. (Hons), DC, CSCS,
ART®, Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
- Reugg, R. DC, PhD. Risk Management, Headaches. 2012
- World Health Organization. Headache Disorders. October 2012. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs277/en/