Headaches and/or Migraines
For some, the medication works. Unfortunately for many the relief obtained is temporary at best. A cycle of headaches and/or migraines and medication often occurs without any lasting relief found. If you think this describes your pain then there is good news for you.
It is also very common for headache sufferers to experience neck pain and stiffness.
But my headaches are migraines?
Migraine headaches are usually severe and sharp, throbbing in nature, and generally affect one side of the head. Tension headaches tend to occur frequently, last a long time and are characterized by a dull, steady pain that feels like a band of pressure around the neck. But despite these differences they are closely related.
What will the chiropractor do to treat my headaches and/or migraines?
Your first visit will include a consultation, examination and possibly an x-ray to help diagnose your problem. Once your condition is fully understood, your chiropractor will explain your test and x-ray results and outline a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. Your chiropractor will use highly skilled adjustments (specific, gentle manipulation) to adjust the spine.
Causes of Neck Pain
There can be many contributing factors to neck pain, such as:
- Wear and Tear
- Poor Posture
They can ultimately lead to pain due to injury of the structures of and surrounding the spine, such as muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, discs blood vessles and nerves.
Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards and forwards or sideways, are referred to as “whiplash”. Whether from a car accident, sporting injury or an accident at work, whiplash or neck injuries warrant a thorough chiropractic examination.
Whiplash is most commonly suffered as a result of a road traffic accident. An impact or collision causes the head to suddenly jerk back and forth beyond its normal limits. Read more bout how chiropractors treat whiplash.
Overuse or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
There is a constant process of breakdown and repair of the soft tissues in the human body. RSI develop when the balance is upset either from increased use and/or impaired healing. RSI is caused by mechanical irritation, which upsets the body’s highly tuned natural balance. It is an inflammation of the fibrous layer that covers soft tissues. Repeated physical movements, such as typing, can cause damage to tendons, nerves muscles and ligaments.
RSI may present as tightness, discomfort, stiffness or pain in the neck, arms or hands. You may experience tingling, coldness or numbness in the hands. There may also be an associated clumsiness, loss of hand strength and co-ordination.
We all have occasional aches and pains that go away within a few days, especially when we have overdone things. But if your symptoms are progressive, persistent or recurrent see your Chiropractor as soon as possible.
Wear and Tear
Wear and Tear, Osteoarthritis or Joint Degeneration occurs due to the accumulation of stresses and trauma over time.
Throughout life the spine is required to withstand considerable weight bearing strain, purely as a result of the pressures of daily living. The overall effects of degenerative changes of the spine, leads to a feeling of stiffness and reduced spinal mobility.
However, just like any other part of the body, the better care that is taken of the spine, the less degeneration is likely to occur.
Chiropractors recognise that poor posture can contribute to spinal pain. Very often poor posture is a result of an existing muscle imbalance, pain or bad habits and conversely, having poor posture can also contribute to you developing pain and a muscle imbalance.
Sitting on an office chair for long periods can contribute to spinal problems. Sitting doubles the pressure on the discs in your low back. The static posture will also affect the muscles in the lower back, neck, arms and legs. The muscles prefer to be used in dynamic rather than static activities. The reason being that they depend on movement to help the blood flow in the musculature. This is important, as it helps to flush away build-up of lactic acid and other by-products in the muscles.
The postural muscles are the ones that are most likely to suffer. Prolonged sitting can cause muscles that support the spine to weaken and over time this weakness becomes significant. As our muscles fatigue it often results in the upper back being more slumped. A slumped posture causes increased musculo-skeletal stress, which in turn may lead to conditions such as; headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, shoulder pain, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands and pain in the shoulder blades.
Over time a poor sitting posture and incorrect work ergonomics can damage spinal structures and become the cause of recurrent episodes of pain. Chiropractors place great emphasis on giving both postural and ergonomic advice as part of the chiropractic treatment.
Once symptoms have arisen, the problem is usually fully established and a chiropractic treatment program including postural advice, manual treatment (chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapy) and rehabilitation exercises help to re-establish a flexible, strong and pain-free posture.
Can the Chiropractor me?
Your doctor of chiropractic (chiropractor) looks at your overall health, focusing not only on your neck, but also on your lifestyle, such as diet and amount of daily exercise. This integrated approach helps determine the best treatment for your neck pain and aims to reduce pressure, restore movement and prevent recurrence.. To help identify the cause of your problem, you and your chiropractor will discuss your symptoms and previous injuries, your family health history, and your lifestyle, including recreational and work related physical activities.
Typically, your Chiropractor will recommend the following:
- postural advice and how to avoid further strain
- a series of spinal adjustments to restore proper movement to the neck joints
- neck exercises to encourage improved movement
- neck strengthening exercises
- heat/ice therapy to help manage your neck pain
- recommend a contoured pillow to provide correct support while sleeping
Your doctor of chiropractic is uniquely qualified to restore the health of your spine and neck. Special chiropractic techniques may relieve the pressure that is causing your neck pain. After locating the misaligned vertebrae in your neck, your chiropractor will use gentle pressure to adjust and mobilise the vertebrae to reduce the nerve pressure. The adjustments improve mobility, and relieve pain and stiffness.
Choosing the right pillow
A poor quality pillow can cause disturbed sleep and as sleep is very important to the body’s repair process, compromising the quality of your pillow can also affect your overall health and mental fitness.
It is important that you use a good quality and supportive pillow, which will hold your neck in alignment and which supports your head. (Your head weighs an average of 4 to 6 kilograms.) A good pillow will encourage your head and neck to remain in the correct position when you move around during sleep. In turn, this will relieve muscle tension around the neck, relax the shoulders and correctly position the head, arms, and lower back for relaxed sleep. Your pillow should offer most support to your neck. To achieve this we as chiropractors recommend that you buy an contour pillow.
There are both biomechanical and pain relieving benefits for you in using contour pillows. They are helpful in the treatment of pain by offering support and should be considered an important adjunct to chiropractic care in the treatment of acute and chronic neck complaints regardless of the cause.
The contour pillows are made from foam and they are shaped to provide support for your neck and head.
Regardless of why you think you have pain it is important to deal with it sooner rather than later. The longer you have a problem the harder it is to get rid of it. The early signs of having a problem might only present as a slight stiffness and tiredness in the shoulders. Having pain is not normal even though it is common.