Help for Headaches

Posted: April 22, 2015
By: Dr Peter Clark

Most of us will experience an occasional headache throughout our life. Although for many, headaches can be a daily problem. Headaches come in several forms and can be brought on by many reasons; environmental, physical, emotional, etc.

Tension Headaches
The most common type of headache is a tension headache. This is a constant dull, achy feeling either on one side or both sides of the head, often described as a feeling of a tight band or dull ache around the head or behind the eyes. These headaches usually begin slowly and gradually and can last for minutes or days. Tension headaches are often the result of stress or bad posture, which stresses the spine and muscles in the upper back and neck.
Typically tension headaches are caused by subluxations in the upper neck. When there is a misalignment in the upper cervicals it can cause a small muscle at the top of the neck to go into spasm. When this muscle spasms, it tugs at the dura mater (thin tissue matter that covers the brain), and a headache occurs. Office workers are prone to this type of headache.

Migraine Headaches
Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last a few hours to a few days.
Migraine headaches are caused by a constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of blood vessels. Each time the heart beats it sends another shock wave through the carotid arteries in the neck up into the brain.

Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are typically very short in duration, excruciating headaches, usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. This is the only type of headache that tends to occur at night. The reason that they are called ‘cluster' headaches is that they tend to occur one to four times per day over a period of several days.

Headache Trigger Points
Trigger point headaches stem from trigger points along any of the muscles that run from the face, jaw, head and neck to other parts of the body including sternum, shoulders, back etc. Trigger point headaches cause a multitude of effects including severe pain to the back of the eye, widespread head pain, balance issues, visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, jaw pain, tooth or ear pain etc.

Chiropractic Care for Headaches
Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck.
A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that "spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications." These findings support an earlier study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found spinal manipulative therapy to be very effective for treating tension headaches. This study also found that those who stopped chiropractic treatment after four weeks continued to experience a sustained benefit in contrast to those patients who received pain medication.
Each individual's case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of chiropractic care can be determined. However, in most cases of headaches, the problem can be elevated and/or managed with chiropractic adjustments. Call American Family Spine and Health and see what Dr. Clark recommends for treating your headaches. 704-792-2700. You do not have to suffer any longer.

Avoid Headache Triggers

  • Try to avoid stress, anxiety, excitement, certain foods, and odors
  • Know that menstrual periods and changes in weather are among factors that may also trigger headache.
  • Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
  • Avoid certain chemicals:
    Nitrite compounds (found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats.)
    Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.)
    Exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead.
  • Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.


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