Headache Treatment and Prevention
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.
Headaches are more common in adults, although they can develop at any time in life. Approximately 4 out of 5 children have headaches at some point, but most are self-resolving. In fact, many adults who suffer from headaches report having the first headache in childhood.
Headache symptoms usually begin gradually. In fact, the sudden onset of severe headache may signify a serious problem and requires immediate medical attention. Common headache is often described as achy, dull or throbbing pain. It typically begins at the base of the skull/upper part of the neck and may radiate into the eye(s), the temple, or other locations. Headaches may be felt on one or both sides of the head. Often loud noises or bright lights may make them worse. Some patients may become nauseated or experience odd smells, sounds, or sights before and during the headache attack.
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 – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found 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.
Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.
What Causes Headaches?
Ninety-five percent of all headaches are either; tension, migraine, or cluster headaches.
Tension headaches are caused by problems with the neck muscles.
Migraines are usually caused by changes in the blood vessels inside the skull.
Other common types of headache include “cluster” headaches—headaches grouped together over weeks at a time; sinus headaches, associated with allergies and/or sinus infection; and headaches from poor vision.
What Is the Treatment for Headaches?
Chiropractic Adjustments of the neck to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system, along with stretching and strengthening exercises, and advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), and relaxation techniques. have been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of these types of headaches and should help to relieve any recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
How Can Headaches Be Prevented?
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.).
Muscle-tension headaches can often be avoided by maintaining proper posture and neck movements while performing your normal activities.
- Avoid slouching
- 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
- 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.
- Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.Avoid reading with your neck bent forward
- Try a low-fat, high-complex carbohydrate diet. A recent study demonstrated that such a diet can dramatically lower the frequency, intensity, and\duration of migraine headaches.
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
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