Headaches and Migraines
Do you have normal headaches? Many times, while taking a history, a patient will say they have “normal” headaches. First of all, no headache is “normal”. Headaches are common – far too common – in our stressful and hectic society but that does not mean they are normal. It is estimated that 45 million Americans suffer from headaches on a regular basis and that 80-90% of the population has experienced at least one headache in his or her lifetime. Tension headaches are the most common. They are usually dull and achy with tightness across the forehead and sore muscles in the head, neck and upper back. Tension headaches may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
What about migraines? They affect an estimated 30 million people. Migraines are more intense than headaches with pain often on only one side of the head. There may also be nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and/or noise associated with migraines. Over 150 million hours are lost from work each year due to migraine pain.
The causes of headache and migraines vary. In some cases, the cause may be vascular, meaning circulation. Blood vessels can constrict (or dilate!) and trigger headache and/or migraine pain. There could also be a digestive component due to the vagus nerve involvement. In the case of tension headaches especially, there is thought to be a muscular component. When the muscles of the head, neck and upper back get tight or even go into spasm, they can cause trigger points that refer pain to the head. The muscle tightness can also cause spinal misalignment which in turn can put stress on the nerves going to the head. In many cases of headache, the TMJ (the jaw) is involved. For many people, allergies and sensitivities to smells, tastes, foods, or light may trigger headaches. One sign of dehydration is headaches and many times I have “cured” someone’s headaches just by getting them to drink enough water every day. Finally, toxins, chemicals and metals can cause headaches. I once had a patient whose headaches did not go away until she took the mercury fillings out of her mouth.
When it comes to headaches, I have come to believe that anything can cause anything! The important thing is to find out what’s causing YOUR headaches or migraines and what can be done to help.
In my office, that begins with a thorough chiropractic analysis to determine if there is a musculoskeletal issue that needs to be corrected. Many times headaches or migraines improve dramatically with chiropractic care only. The next step is to do a complete Nutrition Response Testing® analysis to see if there is a nutritional component that needs to be addressed. Nutrition Response Testing® is a safe, effective way to support the body on the road to better health and healing. When a patient is under our care for headaches or migraines, I find it helpful if they keep a food log. This helps uncover any food issues that may need to be addressed. Finally, if stress is a factor, we can offer relaxation techniques to reduce tension. Sometimes, it’s as easy as taking a nice, warm Epsom salt bath!
Do you - or someone you know- suffer from headaches or migraines? If so, join us on Tuesday, March 6th at 5:30 pm in our office for a free public health workshop on headache and migraine pain. We will be discussing alternative ways of treating headaches and migraines that support health and healing. Everyone who attends will get a free screening to see if the care we offer is right for you. Seating is limited so call us today at 501-842-1004 to RSVP.