New Solution for your Headaches or Migraines

For some people headaches are an occasional annoyance, for others a disabling chronic condition. There have been many creative headache cures throughout history. In China around 200 a.d., Hua Tho, a famous surgeon and the discoverer of anesthesia offered to relieve the emperor’s headaches by removing a portion of his skull. In medieval Europe headaches were treated by applying a solution of vinegar and opium to the scalp. And, in the late 1800’s William Gowers, an eminent physician and founder of modern neurology emphasized the importance of a healthy diet. Failing that he recommended nitroglycerin dissolved in alcohol.

Fortunately, modern chiropractic care has a lot to offer headache sufferers. Chiropractic has proven through numerous studies to be highly effective and provide longer and more permanent relief for headaches than even some of the most highly touted wonder drugs. Because headaches are a common health issue, people often accept the idea that they are a normal, inevitable part of life. But headaches, particularly those that recur, are signs that something is wrong. Aspirin and other medications relieve the pain of tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches without correcting the underlying causes. Moreover, analgesics often cover up the warning signs associated with neck, head and back pain.  When those causes are eliminated so also are the headaches that come from them.

An important study by DukeUniversity compared a variety of methods for the treatment of muscle tension headaches. When chiropractic care was compared to the drug amitriptyline the results were greatly in favour of chiropractic therapy. During the six week study the short term effectiveness was similar for each type of therapy. It was the long term benefits in the three months after treatments were discontinued that chiropractic care was shown to have a tremendous advantage over drug therapy.

Patients in the study who had received chiropractic care continued to experience fewer and less severe headaches while patients who had drug therapy went back to their previous condition. Additionally, 82% of patients taking amitriptyline reported adverse side effects including fast heart rate, blurred vision, urinary retention, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain or loss, low blood pressure on standing, rash, hives, seizures, and hepatitis.

TYPES OF HEADACHES

Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headache originates with a dysfunction in the cervical spine, or the area of the spine in your neck. These headaches are characterized by pain at the base of the skull emanating down the neck, and sometimes above the eyes. Patients with cervicogenic headache often suffer from dizziness and neck pain. Cervicogenic headaches are often the result of a neck injury sustained in an auto accident.

Chiropractic care can correct dysfunctions in the cervical spine causing cervicogenic headache. A study published in the journal Spine showed chiropractic adjustments and exercise rehabilitation resulted in significantly reduced symptoms for patients with cervicogenic headache.

Tension Headache:

Tension headaches are the most common headache type, and can result from a number of sources. Muscle spasms, tension, stress, and food allergies can all lead to tension headaches. Massage therapy and chiropractic can significantly ease tension headaches. In one study, massage therapy reduced headache intensity by 30% and headache frequency by 21%.

The reason chiropractic care outperforms drug therapy for headaches is simple. Chiropractic care provides lasting relief by removing the causes of headaches and it does so safely. Drugs, on the other hand are designed to put out fires once they’ve started. The preferable solution is obvious and that is why studies and patients support chiropractic for the care and cure of headaches.

Headaches have a spectrum of causes or triggers. One of the most common triggers for headaches is cervicogenic problems, meaning ‘arising from the neck’. It’s possible to have a cervicogenic headache in the absence of neck pain.

One of the ways chiropractic treatment helps decrease the occurrence of headaches is by improving the balance of the upper neck. Postural strain is one reason for the neck to become misaligned. Stress from sitting at a desk or computer or from driving accumulates quickly because these are activities we spend a lot of time doing. Traumatic injuries such as slip and fall accidents, auto accidents or athletic injuries cause misalignments in the spine and tension in muscles.

Reference

1. Bodes-Pardo G, et al. Manual treatment for cervicogenic headache and active trigger point in the sternocleidomastoid muscle: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013; doi 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.05.022.

2. Jahangiri JN, Vatankhah N, and Baradaran HR. Reduction of Current Migraine Headache Pain Following Neck Massage and Spinal Manipulation. Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. 2012; 5(1): 5–13.

3. Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, et al. A randomized controlled trail of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine 2002; 27(17):1835-1843.

4. Moraska A, Chandler C. Changes in Clinical Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapeutics 2008; 16(2):106-12.

5. Tuchin P, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2000; 23 (2) 91-95.

6. Varkey E, et al. Exercise as migraine prophylaxis: A randomized study using relaxation and topiramate as controls. Cephalalgia 2011; 31 (14):1428-1438.

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