At one point or another, we’ve all experienced a severe headache. In fact, nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. Of course, knowing this brings little comfort. The difficult task is to figure out why they occur, and how to get rid of them. Some headaches are occasional, some frequent, some are dull, and throbbing, while others can cause debilitating pain with accompanying light sensitivity, dizziness, and/or nausea. How do you manage? Do your grit your teeth and bare it? Lie down? Pop a pill, cross your fingers and hope for the best? On a daily, or near-daily basis, millions of Americans turn to pain relief medications to treat headaches, which often provide only temporary relief, with a variety of unpleasant side effects. Recent research/clinical studies note the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation in relieving headache symptoms, by addressing joint dysfunction, muscular tension/imbalances, and most important the nervous system, our master organ!
Recent publications in scientific journals address the evidence of a spinal cord connection in those with chronic headaches. Particularly, the author’s search through contemporary research articles revealed that dysfunction in the upper cervical spine (neck) was attributable to cranial pain, i.e., headaches. A report in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) describes findings of a study that reveals that interventions routinely used in chiropractic treatment improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain, while increased benefits were proven in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used. Dating further back, a June 2011 JMPT study discovered that chiropractic adjustments improved migraine and cervicogenic (originating in the neck) headaches.
Additionally, the evidence revealed that the cause of headaches is often multifactorial. These factors include stress, foods, behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.), nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances. About five percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems, such as the aforementioned factors. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern. The overwhelming majority of primary headaches are associated with increased muscle tension in the neck. Today, more Americans engage in more prolonged sedentary activities than ever before, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as a desk job). This often results in joint irritation, poor posture, and increased muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp, causing your head to ache.
Unfortunately, most headache sufferers turn to over-the-counter drugs as their only form of relief. You don’t have to be one of the millions that turn to, and depend on, pain medications for temporary relief. Schedule a comprehensive evaluation with your health care provider or a Doctor of Chiropractic. If neck and spine/muscular dysfunction is causing your pain, adjustments may be an effective solution for long-term relief. Moreover, you may require nutritional counseling, such as a change in diet, perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins, or advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), and exercise and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
Michael “Dr. Mike” Roney, D.C., is a musculoskeletal specialist who recently joined Pawling Family Chiropractic, located in the Atrium on Route 22. He can be reached at (845) 855-1475, FellaWellness.com online, or by email at DrMike@FellaWellness.com.