Should I See a Chiropractor for Headaches?
Suffering from a headache is a pretty common occurrence for people of all walks of life. In fact, there are reports that up to 90% of people in the U.S. deal with headaches in some capacity. Unfortunately, many people choose to grin and bear it or resort to chronic dependence on pain medications. But there’s a better way! Seeking holistic care for headaches can be truly life-changing by improving overall quality of life and reducing the need for unproductive days and pill popping. One of the best paths to better managed pain is seeing a chiropractor for headaches.
What Causes Headaches?
The majority of headaches are considered “primary” headaches, where the biggest health concern is the headache itself. Common types of headaches include tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines. These types of headaches can occur acutely, cyclically, or be chronic in nature depending on a variety of factors. On a very rare occasion, a headache is an indicator of a bigger underlying physical problem like a tumor, spinal cord injury, stroke, or aneurysm. (If your headache comes on suddenly, is severe, or affects your speech or balance- seek medical help immediately.)
When it comes to headaches, there are a handful of triggers that could be causing your symptoms. Below are the top triggers related to headaches:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Spending too much time in one fixed posture
- Looking down at your phone continually
- Prolonged driving or gaming
- General stress
- Alcohol intake
- Food allergies
- Poor nutrition
- Outside stimulus (loud noises, bright light, pollution, scents, etc.)
- Blood sugar changes (too high or too low)
- Blood pressure changes (if too high- seek medical care immediately)
- Lack of sleep or general fatigue
- Poor health caused by chronic disease or other poor lifestyle choices
- A neck or head injury from a strain, fall, car accident, etc.
- Spine misalignment
It’s easy to see, by reviewing the top five headache triggers on this list, that our modern pace of life- filled with technology and too much sitting- can be a big piece of the puzzle in dealing with headaches. Since most of us can’t ditch our current lifestyles, it may leave you wondering if it’s even possible to manage your headaches effectively. Thankfully, the short answer is: absolutely!
Treatment Options for Headaches
The most common remedy we often turn to for headache pain relief is medication- most often non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or Aleve. If symptoms are more severe or chronic, you may be prescribed stronger pain medication, muscle relaxers, or brain altering substances. Occasionally, a short bout of rest can help too. Yet, these options don’t address the underlying triggers that we discussed above. Ultimately, this can lead to a seemingly endless cycle of pain and suffering each time a pain trigger is activated.
Of course, a better approach to headache treatment is to come up with solutions that actually address these underlying issues. Often, more than one trigger is the culprit for your headaches. Thus, a multifaceted and holistic approach will give you the best results. Below are some of the top recommendations for sustainable headache treatment:
- Posture training. Learning to sit, stand and sleep with better ergonomics can reduce strain to delicate spine tissues and restore balance. Plus, learning to take regular breaks from any prolonged positions to stretch and move can also help significantly.
- Low-impact exercise. Regular exercise is crucial to promote circulation, postural strength, and general health when combating headaches. Keeping the exercises low impact can be beneficial for reducing strain on the spine to prevent overexertion and aggravation of your symptoms.
- Drug free pain relief. Options like ice therapy, a heating pad, electrical stimulation, or massage can all be great adjuncts to the headache recovery process. It’s important to note that these options have great short term benefits without the risks that come with medication use, but should also be paired with other options listed in this section for better long term results.
- Adequate hydration. Getting enough water and electrolytes plays a key role in preventing headaches. Dehydration is a common problem in today’s society with an abundance of salty foods, over-caffeination, and not enough plain old water. Make sure to drink lots of water consistently throughout the day so that your urine stays clear to light yellow.
- Stress management. Whether you are experiencing relationship stress, work stress, or something else, stress can put a major damper on your quality of life and leave your head aching. Learning to better manage your stress with mindfulness, exercise, or even therapy can make a big difference.
- Relaxation techniques. Many of us hold tension in random parts of our body due to overuse, posture, stress and more. One common issue is holding tension in the jaw while sleeping or with other stress inducing activities. Learning to relax and rest areas that hold tension, like the jaw and neck, can help.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you develop a personalized home exercise and treatment program for tackling your headaches. This often includes posture strengthening, spine stretching, and natural pain relieving modalities that can be done at home.
- Chiropractic care. Most often, headaches leave the neck (and sometimes the mid-back) feeling stiff, sore, and out of balance- and visa versa. This self-perpetuating cycle can leave you feeling stuck and in pain. Since a chiropractor is specially trained in spine health, they can help to quickly restore better balance to your spine via optimal spine alignment. This is the ultimate solution for addressing one of the true root causes of headaches.
How Chiropractic Can Help
High quality research published in journals like the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) points to the efficacy of seeing a chiropractor for headaches. One of the most supported treatment options is spine manipulation for addressing symptoms of neck pain, migraines, and headaches. Spine manipulation is beneficial for addressing underlying spine misalignment. Poor spine alignment is a commonly overlooked root issue of many pain related health conditions that can be properly diagnosed and treated by a chiropractor. Since spine alignment causes poor nerve energy for operating basic bodily functions, addressing this issue first is crucial for reducing headache symptoms.
Chiropractors that are certified in Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) are the absolute experts in spine alignment assessment and treatment. They are trained in scientifically sound protocols that are designed to get sustainable long lasting results for common complaints like neck pain, low back pain, and headaches (and more!). CBP care providers are an elite few around the U.S. because of the extra time and consideration it takes to get certified. The team at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV is CBP certified and ready to help you address your headaches.
Chiropractic Treatment Options
While one of the top chiropractic treatment options is regular spine adjustments, there are a lot of other options and factors that can help you feel your best. Some of the options for restoring spine health with the guidance of your chiropractor includes the following:
- Spine manipulation. Reduce strain on the nervous system and improve nerve energy by restoring proper spine alignment and promoting better spine movement as well.
- Education. There are many factors that go into understanding why you are experiencing headaches. Having a grasp of this can help you take meaningful action. Your chiropractor can teach you about optimal exercises, ideal posture, relaxation techniques, and ergonomics for work and play. This will all help to minimize the risk of repetitive injury, spine misalignment, and general overuse that can lead to headaches.
- Lifestyle recommendations. This can come in many forms. Your chiropractor will most often discuss your nutrition, stress management, sleep, water intake, weight loss strategies, and more. They understand how important full holistic health is for reducing the frequency and onset of headaches and any other ailments.
Initially, chiropractic care will focus on pain relief. Then, the real work begins to address and resolve any of the underlying issues that are contributing to your symptoms. This extra step in your care is what differentiates chiropractic care from other treatment options. You can expect sustainable results that last you significantly longer than a pill or day off will.
Getting Headache Relief without the Side Effects
If you want headache relief without the side effects that medications or injections provide, the answer should be pretty clear to see a chiropractor for headaches. You have a ton of options for improving your quality of life and reducing the frequency of headaches on your own with the options listed above. However, if or when that isn’t enough, the formal holistic approach that a chiropractor will take will ensure that your headaches can be resolved or managed better for the long term. When the root causes of a headache are addressed first, it will help you get out of the cycle of on again, off again pain that many headache sufferers experience.
For expert guidance in addressing your headaches, consider getting in touch with the CBP certified team at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV. They are dedicated to sustainable results and can discuss what treatment options are best for you.