Headaches are one of the most common pain conditions in the world. As many as 75% of adults worldwide had a headache in the past year. They are a major cause of absenteeism from work and school. The most common headache disorder is a tension-type headache. They typically feel like a constant ache in the head, sometimes described as pressure in the neck and the back of the head. Tension headaches may be caused by emotional stress and anxiety, which cause chemical changes in the brain. These types of headaches respond exceptionally well to chiropractic care.
There are many possible causes of headaches.
- Light: sunlight, overhead light, glare, blue light from computers and cell phones
- Sounds: loud noises, but also continuous low-level repetitive sounds
- Sleep: sleeping in the incorrect position can push the bones in your neck out of their correct position producing headaches and muscle spasms
- Medication: many prescription medications have the potential to trigger headaches
- Physical Activity: pushing too hard can result in headaches from swelling of the blood vessels in your head, neck, and scalp, though lack of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, can also cause headaches
- Posture: you need to sit up straight to keep blood flowing. Extended time spent sitting at a desk restricts blood flow
- Food Sensitivities: food and drinks release neurotransmitters that can cause headaches in some people. Food triggers include aspartame (found in diet sodas), caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and cheese among others. Not eating enough may also lead to a headache due to a drop in blood sugar
- Weather: changes in humidity, air pressure, and temperature
Needless to say, headaches have become a social and economic burden in the US as well as other parts of the world. So what should you do? Find the root cause of the problem, don’t just mask the pain with medication only for the headache to eventually return. Determine where the headaches are originating from – whether that be the nerves, muscles, joints, stress, toxins, etc – and address that underlying issue head-on.
Before we are able to assess your headache and what is causing it, we must perform a thorough consultation, evaluation, and neurological exam. This consultation gives our doctors the opportunity to really listen and understand your specific problems and how they are affecting your life. We are able to capture key bits of information about your headaches that can help us determine their cause.
In the examination, we will perform a thorough evaluation of your spine and nervous system, feeling your spine for misalignments and checking your posture with bilateral scales to see if you’re carrying your weight evenly. We will also perform nerve scans which will tell us where you have pressure on your nerves causing muscle tension and nerve interference affecting your organs and glands, and a heart rate variability test will tell us how stressed your body is in a restful state.
Depending on the findings, we may do digital X-rays to see how many spinal misalignments you have, how long they’ve been there, and the severity of them. With those X-rays, we can assess the curve in your neck. Without the proper curve, your spinal cord and brainstem will be under an abnormal amount of stress which can cause headaches.
These tests help us create a corrective chiropractic care plan that is specific to you. Pain is a signal your body uses to tell you something isn’t functioning properly. Our job is to find out what’s causing that pain so we can help it function the right way by correcting the misalignments and removing the pressure off the nerve.
Subluxation (misalignment of the spine) is a condition that only chiropractors are specifically trained to identify and correct. When a bone in the neck shifts out of its normal position it can cause pressure on the spinal cord, brainstem, and lowest areas of the brain. This can cause symptoms you may be experiencing with your headaches like a band being squeezed around your head, a pounding or throbbing pain in your head, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, vision issues, and numbness or tingling around your head and face.
Doctors of chiropractic successfully help thousands of individuals everyday obtain safe, effective, long-term relief from their headaches. Chiropractors take the pressure off the nerves to allow your body to heal itself, without drugs or surgery, so your nervous system can function properly. If your headaches are caused by a subluxation you won’t see any long-term relief until the subluxation is corrected. Along with chiropractic adjustments, we also perform acupressure, sacral occipital techniques, and cranial work to help relieve the headaches and their symptoms.
After your functional assessment, we will design a custom exercise plan to specifically address the type of headache you’re experiencing. Your plan will address any muscle weakness or imbalance we find during your evaluation. Using cervical traction devices at home we can correct abnormal forward head posture. We also teach you the proper technique to sit, stand, walk, sleep, and drive to correct your postural imbalances.
Food is one of the biggest triggers of headaches and migraines. Knowing what to eat is just as critical as knowing what not to eat. We can provide diet recommendations as well as guide you on how to determine which foods are particularly troublesome for your condition.
There are over 150 different types of headaches, tension headaches being the most common. They typically feel like a constant ache in the head with pressure in the neck or the back of the head. Multiple factors can trigger a tension headache including stress, inadequate sleep, poor posture, hunger, alcohol, caffeine, TMJ problems, straining your eyes, dehydration, a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection. Tension headaches can interfere with your daily life which is why you should see a chiropractor immediately for relief.
Migraines are typically intense and can last up to three days at a time. They are most commonly on one side of the head and can be so severe that they interfere with your daily activities. They are usually associated with symptoms like vomiting, blurred vision or loss of vision, and light & sound sensitivity. Migraines can be triggered by poor sleep, stress, exercise, diet, and hormonal changes. Nearly two-thirds of the people living with chronic migraines have not been properly diagnosed leaving them to suffer. Priestley Family Chiropractic is very successful at treating migraines.
These headaches occur in patterns or clusters that can last weeks to months, followed by remission periods. Cluster headache pain is severe on one side of the head, accompanied by symptoms such as nasal discharge, red tearing of the eyes, restlessness or agitation, and forehead and facial swelling. Attacks can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. Unlike migraine and tension headaches, cluster headaches generally aren’t associated with triggers, such as diet, hormonal changes, or stress. Many patients have reported that chiropractic has stopped their cluster headaches.
The trigeminal nerve carries sensation from the face to the brain. This type of nerve pain is most common in women over the age of 50 with symptoms of mild to severe facial pain which is often triggered by chewing, speaking, or brushing the teeth. The pain can start as short, mild attacks or can progress into longer, more frequent bouts of pain. Priestley Family Chiropractic helps people with this condition by removing he nerve pressure with gentle chiropractic adjustments.
Sinus or allergy headaches occur when the membranes around the nasal passages become inflamed or swollen. This buildup causes pain and pressure in your sinuses leading to dull, throbbing aches and pains. Several factors can cause nasal passage irritation: environmental irritants, airborne pollutants such as those that can cause allergies, a sinus infection, sinusitis, and the common cold. These issues can cause mucus buildup leading to pressure and pain in the sinus cavities, around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead. Chiropractic procedures like acupressure, cranial work, and lymphatic drainage are extremely successful in relieving the pressure and pain from a sinus headache.
Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches that occur because of a physical or neurological condition that started first. Pain is referred from a specific source in the neck up to the head and around to the front of the head, and can be felt in, above, and even behind the eyes. A cervicogenic headache may be caused by trauma such as a whiplash injury, abnormal movements, or poor posture of the neck. These types of headaches are also associated with reduced flexibility of the neck and pain that can extend to the scapula, forehead, eyes, temples, and ears. Chiropractic is successful with alleviation pain by restoring the position of the spine in the neck.
COVID is a respiratory infection. With that said, research has found a link between headaches and the novel Coronavirus. Headache is on the CDC’s official list of common symptoms as one of the first presenting symptoms. When you have a viral infection your body mounts an immune response to fight it. Your immune cells release proteins, known as cytokines, that cause inflammation and lead to a headache. You can also experience a post COVID headache that persists after you have recovered from COVID. The COVID headache is described as severe pressure and pain in the entire head. Chiropractic can help reduce the pressure and pain of a COVID headache.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects brain function. Concussions can lead to problems with concentration, memory, balance, coordination, and headaches. Concussion headaches can feel like a tightness or pressure and don’t always start immediately after a concussion. After a car accident or sports injury, where concussions are common, it’s important to continue monitoring your health as adrenaline and shock can initially mask the symptoms. Chiropractic helps treat the symptoms of a concussion, like headaches, as well as restores proper spinal structure to keep headaches from coming back.
Many women experience frequent headaches during pregnancy. Most common in the first trimester, though some women find that they return in the third trimester. Pregnancy headaches can range from mild to severe and can be very uncomfortable for expectant mothers. Luckily, chiropractic care is a safe and effective method of getting rid of headaches.
The most common causes of headaches during pregnancy are rapid hormonal changes, increased volume of blood, stress, and postural changes. Poor posture is a known cause of headaches and there is no doubt that a woman’s body goes through dynamic physical changes during pregnancy that affects her posture. Women who experienced migraines before they became pregnant often find that they improve once they are expecting.
As always there are triggers to these types of headaches, so during pregnancy you want to be hyper-aware of them. Remaining well-hydrated, eating a healthy & balanced diet, and taking steps to reduce stress can help prevent headaches during pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension headaches are usually more severe than tension headaches and are very persistent. Keeping blood pressure within safe limits will improve these headaches. You can reduce your blood pressure by reducing your salt intake, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of rest. Lying on your left side helps put the baby in the best position possible and will relieve the pressure off your major blood vessels. Chiropractic can help by making sure the body is functioning properly and that the baby can get into the proper position so the mother’s body isn’t under stress.
Dehydration headaches feel different to different people but typically have symptoms similar to those of other common headaches. For many people, it may feel like a hangover headache. Dehydration headaches feel like a pulsing ache on both sides of the head and are aggravated by physical activity. These respondents describe the headache as an ache that becomes worse when they move their heads, bend down, or walk around. Most of these respondents felt complete relief 30 minutes to three hours after drinking water with a pinch of sea salt and squeeze of lemon to restore electrolytes.
Definitely! Chiropractors are trained to identify the source of your headache and guide you through the proper treatment protocols to correct the problem. Through the use of gentle chiropractic spinal adjustments, and other highly specialized chiropractic techniques, chiropractors have established themselves as headache specialists. Priestley Family Chiropractic in Newport Beach has helped thousands of headache sufferers get their lives back on track and they can help you too.
As soon as possible. A headache is a sign that something in your body is not functioning properly. It is important to be evaluated promptly so your condition does not worsen. Starting care quickly can help you feel better and get you back to doing the things in life that you love.
Although massage can give you temporary relief from a headache, because massage works with the tight muscles, it is the nerves that control those muscles. Chiropractic addresses these nerves so it is a great way to treat headaches, both naturally and effectively. Addressing the nervous system allows for optimum function and greater capacity to heal properly and quickly. Priestley Family Chiropractic makes it convenient and easy to address your headache issues.
Of course, doctors of chiropractic are best known for their success in treating headaches. Many medical experts are now coming to understand the true effectiveness of chiropractic and are recommending major changes in the way our healthcare system manages many common headaches.
Absolutely! Adjustments help restore your body’s ability to be healthy. Many headaches actually originate in the neck, so addressing those problems with chiropractic care can certainly bring relief for those suffering from these types of headaches. Many times relief is instant.