Headaches: A Tamable Beast

How many people do you think are affected by headaches? About a third of the population? Perhaps every other person? Maybe even 75%? In a study the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reported that 9 out of 10 people suffer from headaches. Although an extremely common problem, headaches can manifest in any variety of ways. The can be throbbing or dull and deep, they can develop over the span of the day or hit you all at once. They can last hours to days. This universal but variable nature of headaches leads to the questions: What exactly are headaches and what can be done about them?

Headaches are split into two categories: primary and secondary. The Mayo Clinic defines secondary headaches as those that stem from an underlying condition. The causes of these headaches range in severity from dehydration or brain freeze to cancer or a brain tumor. Although these headaches provide important hints to what is going in within the body, the ACA indicates that secondary headaches only account for 5% of all headaches. 

The remaining 95% percent of headaches are primary headaches. Primary headaches stem from problems in the head and neck areas and are not symptoms of underlying disease. The Mayo Clinic explains that primary headaches are the result of “over activity of, or problems with, pain-sensitive structures in your head” they elaborate that other contributing factors include “chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck (or some combination of these factors).” 

Primary headaches are further classified by type of pain and region affected. According to the Mayo clinic, the four types of primary headaches consist of sinus, cluster, tension and migraine. Tension and sinus headaches are the most
common and least severe forms of headaches. Sinus headaches are caused by blocked sinuses resulting in an imbalance of pressure within the nasal passages. This pain is centralized around the lower forehead and behind the cheekbones. Tension headaches are also extremely common and are often described as feeling like there is a tight band around the head. The cause to this type of headache is largely unknown but life style, posture and healthy diet maintenance has shown to be effective in decreasing the frequency of these headaches. Cluster headaches are rare headaches characterized by sudden and intense cyclical pain surrounding the eye. These headaches vary widely in length and intensity of the attack and can be a chronic disorder. Episodes manifest as periods of recurrent headaches followed by a period of remission that can last months to years. Proper medication and stress management can make these headaches less frequent and shorten lengths of episodes. The most severe form of headaches is migraines. Migraines are characterized by throbbing disabling pain and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Some people experience visual warning signs (such as zig zags or blind spots) prior to an attack. Migraines are caused by a constriction of blood vessels to the brain. The University of Maryland Medical Center elaborates that this type of headache is the result of the misfiring of a signal sent randomly or as a response to certain triggers such as certain foods, lack of sleep, skipping a meal, or change in climate. 

Headaches are often treated with a combination of medication and non-drug pain and stress management. Although mild pain killers offer immediate relief it does not attend to the underlying problems that cause headaches to occur. Over the years chiropractic care has proven to be highly effective in treating on going headaches as well as preventing their reoccurrence. Adjustments provided by a chiropractor realign the vertebra in the neck at the base of the skull that, when out of line can cause muscle tightness and stress on the nervous system connecting the brain with the spine. Misalignment of these structures is often due to poor posture, long periods of sedentary work positions, and high levels of prolonged stress. Realignment of these areas ensure proper signaling and better blood circulation to and from the brain, as well as better nervous function as a whole. University of Maryland Medical Center reported a study that found in cases of severe migraines “22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of attacks” and that “49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine.” Santa Clara Custom Chiropractic treats many patients, as well as staff members, who suffer from chronic headaches, and is available to answer questions on what can be done if you do suffer from the same condition. You can always feel free to give as a ​​call or contact us about this issue or any other questions you may have. 

 

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