Migraines and Headaches in Dana Point, CA

The Chiropractic Approach

Do you struggle with consistent or chronic headaches? Chiropractic is your best bet in looking for a lasting solution to your headaches.

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Headaches are far more common than most people realize, but in most cases, it’s not normal to have headaches. It’s not ok to “just live with them” when chiropractic care has a proven track record of helping headache sufferers. The doctors at PCH Chiropractic are experts in helping those suffering from headaches. Many times chiropractic is one’s best bet in looking for a lasting solution to their headaches.

Here are some stats on headaches:

  • Headaches are a common problem that 50% of people will report a headache every year.
  • 4% of the world’s population suffers from headaches 15 or more days every month.
  • Causes can include emotional (stress, anxiety depression), medical condition (high blood pressure, infection), physical or mechanical (injury, dysfunction in your spine, nerve irritation, tight muscles, trigger points) and environmental (weather, allergies), and even dehydration.
  • At PCH we focus on correcting the underlying cause of headaches, as in some cases they can stem from structural and neurological changes to one’s physiology. We may also give you some health hacks related to Headaches to include changes in diet, stress reduction, and postural ergonomic optimization.
  • As mentioned above headaches are common but not normal. Your head hurting can be your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
    If your headaches are coming from changes in your spinal alignment, they will not go away until you have addressed that. This is what Chiropractors specialize in.
  • It is important to find the root cause of the problem. Are the headaches originating from the muscles, joints, discs, organic disease, or something else?

chiropractic patient receiving chiropractic care for their migraines and headaches condition

The World Health Organization reports that nearly everyone will suffer a headache occasionally. The International Headache Society identifies 150 different types of headaches, which can include tension, migraine, hormonal, cervicogenic, metabolic, cluster, and many others.

The Migraine Research Foundation also states that 25% of households include migraine sufferers. However, some people suffer more than others. The statistics show that 1/10 of persons have headaches every day.

Headaches and migraines are also a heavy burden for society as they come with heavy economic costs. Indirect and direct costs including health care, loss of productivity due to absenteeism, and disability were estimated in 2016 to be 36 billion dollars annually in the USA alone.

Whatever the cause may be, it’s certain that the cause of Headaches is not the lack of headache medication in the body. Taking pills for headaches will only mask the underlying cause of the problem. Therefore, steps should be taken to find the underlying cause of one’s Headaches.

Some people who suffer from headaches, including migraines, may use analgesics, anti-emetics, NSAIDS, massage therapy, prophylactic, and specific anti-migraine medications to relieve their symptoms. Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs come with known side effects. Many individuals receive chiropractic care for help with their headaches. Studies show chiropractic can be very helpful or those suffering with headaches. During chiropractic care, the chiropractor will evaluate the cervical spine (neck) for misalignments that can interfere with the proper blood flow to the head and the neurological structures that can cause headaches. These misalignments, called subluxations, are the misalignment of a vertebra compared to the one above or below. By correcting the misalignment, the chiropractor can help restore proper function, and remove adverse mechanical tension upon the delicate nerves of the and surrounding tissues.

To help differentiate between the types of headaches, many factors are taken into consideration such as triggers, timing, occurrence, headache location, nature of the pain, and the type of symptoms associated with the headache.

Although the specifics differ from one headache type to another, it appears that many of them are associated with an imbalance of serotonin. The brain stem is also an important player in this cascade, as it is responsible for the modulation of pain and regulation of autonomic functions. Many cranial blood vessels and the dura mater are innervated by the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve and go through the trigeminal nucleus, which is located in the brain stem and is attached to the dura mater. In other words, Subluxations in the neck region can cause stretching and pressure in the brain stem, the tissues that surround the brain, and the nerves that come out of the neck and go back up into the head and face. Some patients report this at a headache that start in the base of the skull or upper neck and radiates pain back up into their head.

The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is also something to consider when evaluating the cause of headaches. The improper flow of CSF has been known to be another cause of headaches due to changes in intracranial pressure and imbalance in CSF pressure. CSF is the fluid that flows deep inside the brain. CSF brings both nutrients to the brain and helps remove waste products and toxins. Changes in CSF flow have been associated with Subluxations in the upper neck.

If someone’s headaches are caused by Subluxations the only thing that will get to the underlying cause of the problem is chiropractic care. Everything else will just either mask the symptom or just offer temporary relief. A million people a day receive chiropractic care throughout the world, and some of those are patients receiving much-needed help for their Headaches. One of the first things someone who suffers with any type of headache should do is, is to consult with a Doctor of Chiropractic. The Doctors at PCH Chiropractic are experts in the evaluation, care, and management of Headaches with a natural approach that is non-drug based.

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

When you come in, we will work to find out what type of headaches you are suffering from. We may ask you questions as to what the triggers are, when they happen, where they are in your head or on your skull, and also the quality of them.
As doctors, we really want to understand what is going on in your body. This helps us know if we can get to the root cause of the headaches. We do not accept all patients. Only those that we believe will benefit from chiropractic care.

We will not only palpate your spine and feel your muscles and your vertebrae, but we also do many other additional tests. We will check your range of motion, do some orthopedic tests, and see how your body is adapting to all the different motions. And in some cases, we will also do neurological testing including cranial nerve testing, eye movements, balance and cerebellar testing. These test gives us a window into your brain, how it is activated, and how the left and right side of your brain may or may not be speaking to one another.

By looking at all the aspects of your body; your spine, your musculoskeletal system, your brain, it gives us a picture of what is going on in your overall body and if chiropractic can help you.

Digital X-rays

At PCH Chiropractic we have digital low-radiation X-ray equipment directly on site. That way if we see from the physical exam that a patient’s problem might be coming from a misalignment of their spine, we can take the x-rays and get the results quickly.

This permits us to assess the alignment cervical spine and see if there is stress on your overall nervous system that might be causing the headaches. This can show up as a reduced curve in the neck called cervical lordosis, or in more severe cases a reversed cervical curve called cervical kyphosis. The only way to tell if someone has either of these would be to take a cervical (neck) X-ray.

The research has shown that a reduced cervical curve (cervical lordosis) and abnormal posture are often linked to headaches. (Posture and headaches Cervical headache: an investigation of natural head posture and upper cervical flexor muscle performance, D H Watson et al. Cephalalgia. 1993 Aug.)

When we look at your x-rays’ we will look at the alignment of the vertebrae, the disc space, and your overall curvature and posture. From there we do specific measurements with a patient’s digital x-rays using cutting-edge analysis software to determine how much stress is on your neck, your musculature, and your overall nervous system. These findings are all reviewed with every patient, and a corrective care plan is created for them.

It is important to know exactly what we are working with before starting chiropractic care as everyone is different. With digital x-rays, we can make sure that there are no instabilities or permanent damage that might have been due to previous trauma. In certain cases, we may do motion x-ray studies and also a stress x-ray to see what is the full healing potential of your spine. All our adjustments are very specific and tailored to the curve of your cervical spine as well as the measurement and calculations mention above. No two corrective care plans are the same. Each one is individualized for each patient.

Specific Chiropractic Care

Subluxations are misalignments between different vertebrae or whole sections of the spine. They are caused by the 3 T’s: Trauma, Toxins, and Thoughts (STRESS). When subluxations occur, they can alter the energy coming from the brain to the overall body. This can cause a miscommunication between the brain and the organs, possibly resulting in various health problems, including headaches.

The nerves coming out of the upper cervical area (upper neck) are directly linked to the areas of your brain that are affected when having headaches. Therefore, if there are any types of misalignment or pressure on those nerves the headaches can be triggered. Some other types of headaches can also be due to bad posture and overall decreased neck curve. These changes can put a lot of stress on neck musculature, then trigger tension and cervicogenic headaches. (research)

Misalignment in the upper cervical spine can also impede on the flow of cerebral spinal fluid up and down the spine and into the brain. Cerebral spinal fluid brings nutrients to the brain and also literally helps flush waste products from the brain. Therefore, if it doesn’t flow properly, the brain is starved of nutrients and drowning in waste. This in turn may lead to inflammation in the brain can be associated with headaches. Changes in CSF flow can also be associated with anxiety, ADHD, depression, and memory issues.

Don’t forget if your headaches are caused by subluxations, they won’t get better until they are addressed and proper alignment is restored. Doctors of Chiropractic are the only doctors that specialize in the correction of Subluxations, and the doctors at PCH Chiropractic are experts in the correction of Subluxations.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan

Muscle weakness and imbalance can also be linked to headaches. Often with poor posture, including forward head posture, the anterior neck flexors, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior muscles can become weak. On the other hand, the posterior neck extensors, upper trapezius and levator scapula, and pectoralis muscles can become weakened (hypertonic). This is what we also call upper cross syndrome. This type of posture and muscles are directly linked to the other muscles supporting your skull and keeping you upright. Therefore, constant strain in those muscles can cause both tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches.

This type of muscle imbalance is something that can be worked on by a patient on at home given the proper instructions by the staff at PCH Chiropractic. Everyone has a different posture and when you come to PCH chiropractic, we make sure that we give you personalized in office, AND at home exercises based on your specific posture. However, here are some that most people can benefit from:

  • Posterior head translation (Chin tucks)
  • Pectoralis stretch (doorway stretch)
  • Isometric Neck Extension with a Theraband
  • Sternocleidomastoid stretch
  • Bruegger w/ head retraction

There are some positions at work to watch for, and that you can do to avoid aggravating the problem.

  • Make sure your computer is at eye level; put the BOTTOM of your screen at eye level. You can use large books to prop your laptop or desktop if you are working from home.
  • Also make sure that when you are typing on your keyboard your arms are at 90 degrees to avoid rounding the shoulders.
  • Take breaks every 20-30 minutes to do a doorway stretch
    Arrange for back support in your seating arrangement to avoid slouching. Sit up straight.
  • Don’t cradle a phone between your ear and your head. Use a headset.

Nutritional Recommendations

The first thing to look at when considering nutrition for headaches is water intake. Dehydration is a common trigger for headaches. A 120lbs person should drink around 70 oz of water daily and this should increase depending on the size of the individual. An average size woman should drink roughly 90oz (2.7 liters) and a man 130oz (3.7 liters). Please make sure that those are not sugary drinks, juice, diet sodas or coffee. Drink water, lots of it. We’ve had some patients come in suffering with a headache, get adjusted, drink a large glass of water, and feel better within 10-15 minutes.

Also, when consuming foods or drinks, avoid all MSG’s. Any product high in monosodium glutamate will have a direct effect on brain inflammation and can easily trigger a headache. A tricky ingredient to look for is “natural flavors”. Natural flavors can mean hidden MSG. This also include all diet products that include aspartame, Splenda, or artificial sweeteners.

Other foods to avoid are:

  • Excessive coffee. Drink only organic coffee, as regular coffee is heavily processed, may contain different pesticides and fungus.
  • Red wine, since it contains a lot of histamines can also be a headache trigger. The added sulfites in most wine are also worth avoiding.
  • Aged cheese since it contains Tyramine and molds
  • Chocolate
  • Yeast, this include sourdough, fresh baked goods, and bread.
  • Processed meats

Foods that can be very helpful in preventing headaches are:

  • Celery
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Wild Caught Salmon

Types of headaches

There are over 150 types of headaches, but here is a description of some of the most common:

1. Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are often described as a tight band around the head. These can be caused by stress where the person holds tension in their upper cervical spine (neck), and thoracic spine (mid back). This then may affect the muscles around the skull. Bad posture and spinal misalignment are often causes for tension headaches. You can often feel the very sensitive trigger points right at the base of the skull at the back of the head. These can be triggered by specific activities, bad posture-especially from working at a computer for long hours, and they tend to be worse at the end of the work or school day. Using hand held devices such as a cell phone or tablet with one’s head held in a forward flexed position for long periods may also be a causative factor.

2. Migraine Headaches

There are many types of migraine headaches. There is the classic migraine that seems to happen commonly on the same side of the head, will have throbbing orbital pain, photophobia (sensitivity to light), nausea and sensitivity to sound. Some people will also experience an aura (visual disturbance).

These are usually linked with the Trigeminal cranial nerve which is directly linked to the upper cervical spine at C1, C2, C3 (very top part of neck). This region is also attached to the dura mater (thin layer that surround the brain). These are also linked to serotonin levels in the body. This is why there are hormonal migraines that some women will experience during their monthly cycle.

3. Allergy or Sinus Headaches

Can be seasonal and feels like pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Can be caused by a sinus infection or inflammation from allergies. They can also be caused by certain foods high in histamine and mold (like cheese and red wine) or toxic mold via exposure in the environment. The pain can increase as you bend forward or lie down depending on the accumulation of mucus in the sinuses.

4. Cervicogenic Headache

This is commonly due to problems in the neck due to misalignment, however, the pain is felt in the back of the head and can wrap around the front. Often it is accompanied by pain and stiffness in the neck. They can start occurring after a trauma, injury (eg: car accident and/or concussion), an infection, or other activities that involve repetitive flexion/extension of the neck (cervical spine).

5. Concussion and Whiplash Headaches

This type of headache commonly starts occurring after a head injury, and may not start immediately (maybe months after trauma). Even small fender benders can eventually lead to headaches.

Sports injuries, including micro repetitive head trauma like heading a soccer ball, have been associated with headaches. These types of headaches can be accompanied by cognitive delay, inability to focus, memory issues, visual disturbance, sleepiness, balance, and coordination issues.
This is all caused by brain inflammation that was produced by the body in order to heal the brain trauma caused during the accident.

Ready to discover the benefits of chiropractic care? At PCH Chiropractic, Drs. Palmer and Catherine Peet are here to help you get the most out of your life and obtain the highest standard of health and wellness. Book your appointment today.

Common Questions and Answers About headaches:

When should I be concerned about a headache?

Headaches are common, but definitely not normal. Therefore, all headaches should be looked cause of concern as it is your body communication that something is not functioning optimally.

However, one particular headache that is extremely concerning, is if comes on suddenly and it is the worse headache you’ve ever had in your life. This might be a cerebrovascular accident. If you think you might be having one, someone should arrange for your transport to the ER right away.

What causes headaches every day?

There are many things that can cause daily headaches. Dehydration is a very common cause of headaches. Make sure you drink plenty or filtered water.
Misalignment in the cervical spine can also cause daily headaches. Until your spine has been realigned by receiving chiropractic care, those headaches will be reoccurring.

What are the 4 most common types of headaches?

There are over 150 types of headaches. However, the most common are:

  • 1-Tension headaches
  • 2- Cervicogenic / Vertebrogenic headaches
  • 3-Migraines
  • 4-Cluster / Histamine headaches

What is the most common cause of headaches?

The most common cause of headaches is STRESS. Stress is unfortunately to common these days. Incorporating breathing exercises when you feel a headache coming on, can be a simple way to alleviate the pain.

Summary: Regardless of the type, cause, severity, and frequency of headaches, one should always remember that it’s not normal to have headaches. One should also keep in mind that just taking a drug to cover up a headache, not only does nothing to correct the underlying cause but can sometimes have long-lasting serious side effects. The doctors at PCH Chiropractic are experts in the care of those suffering from headaches with a drug-free natural approach.