Nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. Most people have anywhere from two to four headaches a month, and this is considered “normal”. Does 50-100 headaches sound “normal” to you? It doesn’t to me.
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.
About 5% of all headaches are warning signals the body is sending alerting us to a more serious problem. The remaining 95% are known as primary headaches, like tension headaches, migraines, or cluster headaches. Most primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck.
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.), and lifestyle (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture, such as sitting in front of a computer or with your head flexed forward while texting on your phone, called “text-neck”. This sedentary, “technophilic” lifestyle can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp, causing your head to ache.
In our office, we focus mainly on the mechanical and physical reasons for headaches, but we can also help you with lifestyle changes for the other causes of headaches. Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.1 Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves and relieves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.2
Headaches are common, but not normal. A headache is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. Headaches that begin in the spine, specifically the neck and upper back region, will persist if left alone. These are spinal problems that need chiropractic care correction. A lack of mobility at a cervical or thoracic vertebra can create inflammation and nerve interference, which in turn can create muscle spasm and headache. With any problem, it is important to find the root cause, whether it be from the muscles, joints, discs, or something else entirely.