Chiropractic Care for
Headaches & Migraines
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 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 for certain that the cause of Headaches is not the lack of headache mediation 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 all 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 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.
1. Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
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.
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.
2. Digital X-rays
This permits us to assess 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.
When we look at your x-rays’ we will look at the alignment of the vertebrae’s, the disc space, and your overall curvature and posture. From there we do specific measurement 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 the digital x-rays, we can make sure that there no instabilities or permanent damage that might have been due to a 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.
3. Specific Chiropractic Care
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, memory issues.
Don’t forget if your headaches are caused by a subluxations, they won’t get better until they are addresses 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.
4. Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
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.
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
- Yeast, this include sourdough, fresh baked goods, and bread.
- Processed meats
Foods that can be very helpful in preventing headaches are:
- 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
2. Migraine Headaches
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
4. Cervicogenic Headache
5. Concussion and Whiplash Headaches
Sport 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.
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 comon types of headaches?
There are over 150 types of headaches. However, the most common are:
2- Cervicogenic / Vertebrogenic headaches
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 care of those suffering from headaches with a drug free natural approach.
Schedule an Appointment
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.