Chiropractic Care and Headaches
Headaches are very common, affecting all age groups and resulting in lost productivity. Many people turn to pain medications but these only mask the symptoms. A rebound headache may occur when the medication is stopped, thereby necessitating the use of more medication. Continued use of medications can lead to unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. It’s no wonder then, that more and more people are seeking alternative treatments for their headaches, such as chiropractic care.
The causes of headaches are many and may be complex. However, a common source is from tight and restricted muscles and joints in the neck. Stress, poor posture, lack of a supportive pillow during sleep, trauma (such as a fall or a car accident) or other factors can cause the muscles and joints in the neck to become stiff and tight, placing stress and irritation on the nerves in the area. Since some of the nerves in the neck supply sensation to the head, this can cause headaches. The technical term for this is a cervicogenic headache, which literally means a “headache originating from the neck.”
How can chiropractic help?
The manipulation of joints of the neck releases tightness in that area, and allows the joints to move properly, thereby reducing irritation of the nerves and relieving the headache. Manipulation may be in the form of a controlled, quick spinal adjustment (see neck pain) or a slower, gentler movement, depending on the needs of the individual patient. In many cases, the muscles are the main source of pain; therefore, a technique to release tight muscles at the base of the skull is an important component of the treatment and is often used successfully in addition to joint manipulation.
Chiropractic treatment of headaches has a high success rate and is a safe natural alternative to drugs and other therapies. Chiropractic care has also been shown to relieve or minimize some migraine symptoms; results may vary among individuals.