Chiropractic can be of benefit in the treatment of headaches when the headaches are either soft tissue or related to the neck and or musculoskeletal system. A significant portion of headaches originate in the tissues of the neck especially referral patterns from the sub-occipital muscles. Since chiropractors focus their treatment on the soft tissues of the spine, which includes the neck, a lot of headaches can be managed with appropriate chiropractic care. Best of all, chiropractic treatments consist of non-invasive therapies that focus on correcting the cause of headaches (if musculoskeletal) and not simply the short-term masking of symptoms.
The Most Common Causes of Headaches that Present to our Clinic are:
- 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
The Headaches we may be able to help with at Perth Chiro Centre are those that are related to muscle tension or dysfunction of the facet joints of the neck.
Cervicogenic headaches refer to headaches which originate from tissues and structures in the cervical spine or neck region. The headache is generally a very constant, strong, yet dull pain. The most common location of pain is around the orbital (eye) region and upper neck area but may also include other areas of the face, head and neck. The headache will typically last for one to three days and reoccur ever one to four weeks until properly treated. The headache may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing of the ears, and sensitivity to light and sound – similar to migraine headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches are caused by irritation or injury to the structures of the upper neck region, resulting in local neck pain as well as referred pain to the temporal and facial regions. This headache is often precipitated or aggravated by head and neck movements and by applying deep pressure to the muscles of the upper cervical area.
Muscle Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common headache type, representing approximately 60% of all headaches. These headaches are caused by the sustained contraction of the muscles in the neck and head region. The sustained muscle contraction is usually a result of a combination of the following:
- Abnormal facet joint dysfunction
- previous neck/upper back injury- not properly rehabilitated
- poor posture
- Excessive emotional stress
- anxiety or depression
- prolonged sitting or driving
- improper sleeping habits
Characteristically, these headaches are generally mild to moderate in intensity and can last from hours to days. There is a constant tight or pressure sensation, generally feeling like a tight band is wrapping around the head. There is commonly pain and tightness in the area of the neck and shoulder. Pain generally starts in the base of the skull or temporal regions of the head and spreads outwards to affect other areas of the head and neck.
Chiropractors can have success treating neck related headaches. By utilising spinal adjustments, therapeutic exercises and stretches, soft tissue techniques such as trigger point work and massage, and by counseling on lifestyle modification, neck related headaches can improve significantly.
Headache Prevention Tips
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.
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.
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