Headaches are a very common presentation for patients seeking chiropractic care. The average lifetime prevalence of migraine headache is 18%, while tension-type headache is more common with a lifetime prevalence of about 52%. Headache symptoms usually begin gradually and are commonly described as achy, dull or throbbing pain at the base of the skull/upper part of the neck and may radiate into the eyes, temples or other locations around the head. Headaches may be felt on one or both sides of the head and can often be made worse by loud noises or bright lights. Classical presentation of a migraine type headache is the feeling of nausea and sensitivity to odd smells, sounds, or sights before and during the headache attack.
What Causes Headaches?
Headaches can be primary and secondary. Primary headaches do not result from some other health condition, and the most common type of primary headache is caused by problems with the neck muscles. Headaches caused by tension in the joints and muscles of the neck have been shown to respond well to chiropractic adjustments. Other common types of headache include migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and headaches from poor vision.
Secondary headache results from some other cause or condition—head injury, concussion, blood vessel problems, or high blood pressure. Also, side effects to some medications and infections in the head or sinuses can cause headaches. Rare headache causes include tumours, aneurysms and other abnormal growths inside the skull, and toxic substances in the blood. Certain foods, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), and other artificial flavourings and sweeteners may cause headaches as well.
What Is the Treatment for Headaches?
Headache treatment is always cause-related. Chiropractors often treat patients with tension-type headaches and headaches caused by problems with the joints and muscles in the neck and shoulder girdle. Spinal adjustments and mobilisation of the neck, along with stretching and strengthening exercises have been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of tension related headache. Diet and lifestyle, especially stress also play a key role in the management of headaches. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid excessive use of caffeine and sugar in the diet.
How Can Headaches Be Prevented?
Muscle-tension headaches can often be avoided by maintaining proper posture and neck movements while performing your normal activities. Regular chiropractic adjustments will also help to detect any misalignments before significant pain and dysfunction occur.
Here are a few tips you can do to help yourself:
• Avoid slouching. This puts undue pressure at the top of the neck and top of the shoulders leading to excessive muscle tension.
• Avoid reading with your neck bent forward. Prolonged forward head position starts to aggravate the joints in your neck leading to pain and discomfort due to the straightening effect on your neck curvature.
• Keep your computer monitor at eye level. Again, helps to preserve the curve in neck.
• Take frequent breaks from reading and working on the computer.
If you are unsure about the cause of your headache the best way to start is to have yourself assessed in our office. Get in touch today to find out how our Dublin chiropractors can help you.