For too many Australians headache pain is one of those things that come along with the job, family and daily stress. Mistakenly many people believe pain killers is the only relief.
If you have bought into the popular notion that the best way to solve every ache and pain is to reach for the nearest NSAID - the fancy name for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Neurofen, then you only know what the pharmaceutical giants want you to know.
As my patient and believer in chiropractic, you undoubtedly know that non-synthetic treatments should not be overlooked. Safe, non-pharmaceutical treatments do indeed exist and your chiropractor can be your guide to these natural solutions.
This issue is a primer on headache pain.
What exactly is a headache anyway?
Believe it or not, coming up with one uniform definition of headache is rather difficult. In fact, 150 diagnostic headache categories have been established. Try as I might I could not come up with a solid definition of headache that fit across the board!
What I can report is that headache afflicts more than 90 percent of us at some time of the year. Headaches also affect 20% of children and adolescents. The best way to explain a headache is to look at the major types of headaches and what causes them.
We have all heard the TV commercials. You would think that tension headaches are as common as apple pie and motherhood. Everyone gets them. Right? Yes, everyone gets them, but that shouldn't make them an accepted part of everyday life.
Tension headaches are simply the dull, non-throbbing pain that feels like your head is being squeezed in a vice. The muscles in your neck may feel tight or knotted and your head hurts. Nerve endings in the head and neck irritated by taut muscles is the chief source of tension headaches.
I must also mention that 80 percent of headaches overall can be attributed to these types of headaches.
What can you do?
As a believer in the importance of regular chiropractic care, your first solution should not be a trip to the medicine cabinet for couple of Panadol tablets. A neck adjustment from your chiropractor can do wonders to take the pain away and more importantly loosen the tightened muscles that have triggered the event in the first place. And why are the muscles tight? It is simply due to the inherent fact that your spine is out of alignment! Thus, the whole reason why the muscles get so tight is because of nerve irritation triggered by spinal misalignment.
Clinical Research for Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches & Migraines
University of Maryland Medical Center researched clinical trials and quoted the following in regards to Chiropractic Care for headaches.
Several clinical trials indicate that spinal manipulation therapy may help treat migraine headaches. In one study of people with migraines, 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of attacks. Also, 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine.
In another study, people with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects. Combining the two therapies didn't work any better.
In addition, researchers reviewed 9 studies that tested chiropractic for tension or migraine headaches and found that it worked as well as medications in preventing these headaches.
Pills have their place.
Don't get me wrong. Aspirin, Panadol, Tylenol or whatever pain reliever you prefer all work well and have their place in modern health care. But think of this, if tension headaches have become a regular part of your life, then you may need to see a chiropractor.
To help prevent tension headaches may I suggest these healthy lifestyle pointers.
- Maintain good posture to prevent muscle cramps.
- If you are sleeping with 2 or more pillows try cutting back to only using one.
- If you use computers regularly your screen should be 10 degrees below horizontal eye level.
- Get regular exercise to reduce the stresses which you may be carrying across your shoulders.
- When you are at work or studying get up out of your chair and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour.