Headaches and migraines are some of the more common complaints we see.
The cause of headache and migraines can vary, and getting to the bottom of the cause is crucial in the long-term. The main causes for headaches arise from stressors such as:
- Physical stress (eg. concussions, falls, lifting)
- Chemical stress (eg. poor food choices, energy drinks, chemicals)
- Emotional stress (eg. grief, anxiety, work stress)
These stressors can add up over time, causing a state of ‘dis-ease’ within the body. This can lead to dysfunctional spinal joints, which chiropractors refer to as subluxations. This can further lead to inflammation and muscle imbalance through the body but most importantly, it disrupts the nervous system.
Headaches are often a result of this dysfunction, particularly when it arises in the neck or upper back.
There are some more common types of headaches. The type of headache depends on the cause and the type of pain experienced.
Cervicogenic headaches originate from dysfunction in the neck (cervical spine) and are experienced as pain at the base of the skull and can radiate down the neck or further up into the back of the head.
The upper vertebrae of the spine support the skull (atlas/C1) which articulates with the occiput (bottom of the skull). This joint complex is responsible for one third of the flexion and extension in the neck. Beneath the occiput and C1 lies the axis (C2). The axis is responsible for most of the rotation in the neck. As the neck is responsible for so much movement, we must take good care of it.
Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches include:
- Unilateral dominant headache
- Worse with neck movement
- Associated with neck pain and joint dysfunction (chiropractic subluxation)
- Weak deep neck flexors
- Trigger points in the upper trapezius muscles, suboccipital muscles and the scalene muscles.
- Sensitivity to light and noise
Cervicogenic headaches often occur after trauma to the neck such as whiplash or concussion.
Tension headaches are common and often present themselves when we are stressed or haven’t been taking good care of ourselves.
Tension headaches occur in about 75% of all headache sufferers. They are often described as dull and aching occurring in a tight band across the head.
The more common causes of tension headaches are poor posture, muscle spasms, excessive computer use and poor hydration.
Tension headaches are the most common chronic headache (if your headache lasts for 15 days or more per month for 3 months)
Research has found that those with headaches originating in the neck, experience improvement following spinal adjustment with far fewer side effects and longer lasting relief than prescription and over the counter medication.
Tension headaches are often mistaken for migraines.
Migraines are less common but are generally the most severe category of headache. Migraines are classed as an episodic headache from a neurological origin and are more common in women than in men. This category of headaches are often distressing and debilitating. Migraines are typically an intense one-sided throbbing or pulsating sensation. Migraines are commonly preceded by warning symptoms and can have a number of triggers. These triggers differ for every migraine sufferer and can include but are not limited to certain food and drinks, stress, lack of sleep, certain smells, exercise and hormones.
How Dandenong’s Sims & Finn Chiropractic can with headaches and migraines:
After a thorough examination, the Chiropractor will identify the primary source of your headaches or migraines and create an individualised management plan which will include chiropractic adjustments and lifestyle recommendations on how to keep the triggers to a minimum.
These techniques will enable us to work with you to strengthen and stabilise your spine and nervous system which will allow you to keep the headaches away.
If you’re experiencing headaches and/or migraines, speak to your Chiropractor and find out how Chiropractic care may be able to help you!
Haavik Taylor H and Murphy B. (2007). World Federation of Chiropractic’s 9th Biennial Congress Award Winning Paper (3rd Prize): Altered sensorimotor integration with cervical spine manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, in press.
Gert Bronfort; Willem J.J. Assendelft; Roni Evans; Mitchell Haas; LexBouter (2001). Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: A systematic review
Robbins. M, Lipton. R, The Epidemiology of Primary Headache Disorders. Seminars in Neurology. 2010. Vol 30(2):pp107-119
Zwart. JA, Neck Mobility in Different Headache Disorders. Journal of Face and Pain. 1997. Vol 37(1):pp6-11