Almost Everyone Gets Headaches…
If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.
Research shows that spinal manipulation is effective for treating tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. These are the most common types of headaches are often caused by poor posture, lack of mobility, stress, or injury.
Chiropractic or Medication…
Generally we find 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 a commonly prescribed medication. One study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reports that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches, and that patients treated with chiropractic care experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who only treated with prescribed medication.
Primary Headaches and Neck Tension
Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.
“The majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension and joint stiffness in the neck,” says Dr. Hall. Today, we all engage in more sedentary activities than we used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, resulting in headaches.
What can you do…
Dr. Hall suggests the following:
- If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
- Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, you may need to avoid heavy exercises that cause a lot of strain. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics and light weight lifting.
- Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.