Depending on the cause, Headache Treatment may include:
- massage to areas of the neck, jaw, upper back and shoulder
- mobilisation or manipulation of the spinal joints that may be causing a pinched nerve
- postural assessment and correction
- advice to recognise triggers of headaches in order to avoid them
- provide strategies to cope with stress
In many cases, results can be seen in a short period of time and long term relief is quite common.
*Numerous research studies have shown that Chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck.
A 2001report by researchers at Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Centre 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.
Causes of Headaches
Headaches can be due to a wide variety of causes such as drug reactions, jaw tightness, neck stiffness, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, dehydration or stress.
The majority which may help with our headache treatment are of two types:
- tension headaches (ie cervicogenic headaches)
- migraine headaches
- cluster headaches (less common)
- sinus headaches
Tension type headaches are the most common that require headache treatment. It affects about of 75% of all headache sufferers. They present as a constant dull, achy feeling either on one side or both sides of the head. These are often described as a feeling of a tight band or dull ache around the head or behind the eyes.
Tension headaches usually begin slowly and gradually and can last for minutes or days, and tend to begin in the middle or toward the end of the day. They are often the result of stress or poor posture.
They are normally due to mechanical issues in the upper back and neck.Those with desk jobs will tend to suffer from this type of headache.
Each year, millions of people in the Australia experience migraine headaches, and about 75% are women. Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last from as little as a few hours to as long as a few days. Many of those who suffer from migraines experience visual symptoms called an “aura” just prior to an attack that is often described as seeing flashing lights or that everything takes on a dream-like appearance.
Migraine sufferers usually have their first attack before age 30 (although can occur in the teens), and they tend to run in families, supporting the notion that there is a genetic component to them. Some people have attacks several times a month.
Migraine headaches are caused by a constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of blood vessels. During the constriction of the blood vessels there is a decrease in blood flow, which is leads to the visual symptoms. Once the blood vessels dilate, there is a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head that leads to the pounding headache.
Triggers of migraines include lack of sleep, stress, flashing lights, strong odours, changing weather patterns and some foods, especially those that are high in an amino acid called ‘tyramine’.
Cluster headaches are typically very short in duration and tend to occur one to four times per day over a period of several days .After one cluster of headaches is over, it may be months or even years before they occur again. They are excruciating headaches usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes and are much more common in men. It is the only type of headache that tends to occur at night. Cluster headaches are also likely to be related to a dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, causing a localized increase in pressure.
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