Let’s talk about HEADACHES
Pressure changes, stress, working at your computer… We often attribute headaches to some change in your life. Headaches are very common, but they are not something we should have to live with. They are your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right.
In our office, about 30% of our patients come to us with complaints of headaches. Chiropractors, especially chiropractors like us who use Activator Technique, are very well equipped to treat headaches. Headaches involve the nerves in your neck and upper back and Chiropractic adjustments help normalize the nervous system.
The most common kind of headache is called a cervicogenic headache. That sounds familiar doesn’t it? Cervicogenic means “cervical” (neck bones) and “genic” (produced by). These types of headaches are felt at the base of the skull, into the forehead or sinus area, and even into the front of the neck and jaw. This is because all of the important nerves in your neck (especially your upper neck) go into your skull, neck and head. Luckily, these types of headaches respond very well to chiropractic care.
Another common type of headache is the tension type headache. Tension type headaches are felt like a band pattern around your head, and feel like a squeezing sensation. Tension type headaches are often associated with very tight muscles in the head and neck area. Interestingly, the partner in crime to tight muscles is vertebral joints that are not moving properly (poor alignment!). Again, these types of headaches respond well to chiropractic adjustments, stress reduction and muscle relaxation.
One of the most mis-diagnosed types of headaches is the migraine headache. Very often, if someone has a bad headache that is sensitive to light or sound, and is just overall debilitating, they are dubbed “migraines”.
Interestingly, a true migraine is located on only one side of the head, is a pulsating feeling, is aggravated by activity, and is associated with nausea or light/sound sensitivity. It may or may not have an “aura” (symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty with speech etc) before the headache starts.
Although there is not a general consensus regarding what actually causes a migraine headache, some research suggests it is due to a change in the chemistry or how the blood vessels act in your brain. Regardless of cause, in many cases, chiropractic care can also help migraines.
How do Chiropractors Treat Headaches?
During treatment for a patient with headaches, we always check for a few prime suspect spots in your neck. The first one, dubbed the “headache spot” is called your C1 vertebrae, or the “atlas”. It is the top cervical bone in your neck and interacts with your skull. This is a very important spot for patients with headaches, as the nerve that is associated with C1 innervates the back of your skull and head. If this joint is not in good alignment, that nerve will be irritated, which can cause headaches. Using the Activator, a very gentle adjustment is delivered to this important bone. No cracking or twisting involved!
We will also check and adjust the other bones of your neck, and the bones at the bottom of your skull. Sometimes, your jaw can also be involved in headaches… But more on that later.
If you or someone you know or love suffers with headaches, help them to understand how chiropractic care can be a solution.