Headache & Migraine Chiropractor
Just about everyone, at numerous points in their lives, experience headaches. If you’re reading this right now, chances are that you or someone you love is experiencing them.
The truth is that headaches can be difficult to manage because there are many different types and factors that can contribute to their existence. The lack of contemplating or understanding the origin of headaches often leads to an additional problem: most individuals that suffer from headaches turn to pain medications for relief and, while these medications do offer some, they are only masking the symptoms and in no way help to tackle the true cause. This is a big deal because many people suffer from headaches without knowing that there are other options available to help unveil the root cause.
One such alternative available is chiropractic care! Read to find out specific details:
What are tension headaches?
Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches. They are often described as “tension” or “pressure” that feels like a band tightly wrapped around the head. Other characteristics of tension headaches include:
- Pain around the back of the head or neck
- Mild to moderate pain
- Pain that lasts for hours
- Dull, throbbing pain
- A slow development
- Typically felt on both sides of the head
Role of chiropractic care and tension headaches:
Tension headaches typically respond to over-the-counter medication, but overuse of these medications can affect the liver and digestive tract without offering any real solution. Because of this, many are finding chiropractic as an effective option.
What are migraines?
Migraine headaches are a severe form of headaches. They are believed to be neurovascularly driven, which means they are caused by a problem in the interaction between the nervous system and the vascular system. Another big influence of migraine headaches is hormonal imbalance, which is why they are more prevalent in women. Other characteristics associated with migraine headaches include:
- Light sensitivity
- Sound sensitivity
- Nausea or vomiting
- Moderate to severe pain
- Pain on one side of the face
- Preceded by an aura or flashing lights, approximately 30 minutes before the episode
- Lasts hours or days
Because this type of headache is associated with vascular changes, risk or aggravating factors can include:
- High-intensity exercise
- Inadequate sleep
- Diet (caffeine, chocolate, cheese, nuts, wine)
- Emotional stress
Role of chiropractic care and migraine headaches:
In order to understand chiropractic’s role with migraines, it must be first understood what is happening and why. Again, these migraines are believed to be neurovascularly driven, not muscularly driven.
When it comes to the pain felt during a migraine, it is believed that the trigeminal nerve is highly involved. The trigeminal nerve is the cranial nerve that supplies pain, temperature, pressure and other sensations to your face, scalp and blood vessels in your brain. During a migraine, your threshold for pain signaling is decreased; therefore, activities that typically don’t cause pain (sneezing, bending forward, light or sound) now do.
Another mechanism that can occur is that the nervous system activates pathways that constrict blood vessels in the brain, which increases arterial pressure which then causes the migraine. This is why migraine pain is often described as a “throbbing.”
Chiropractic care can help with migraines because it optimizes the function of the nervous system and, as a secondary part, the vascular system. By removing nerve pressure, the communication between the brain and the vascular system may no longer be impeded. This increases the possibility that the trigeminal nerve fires properly and that the blood vessels in the brain can constrict and dilate as needed.
What are cluster headaches?
This type of headache is typically severe. It’s characteristics include:
- Excruciating pain that starts abruptly as a headache then bursts of excruciating pain behind an eye or a side of the head
- More common in women
- Associating factors include:
- Smoking and family history of cluster headaches
Cluster headaches are described as sharp, burning, or piercing pain and they can cause the following additional symptoms:
- Pain behind either eye
- Severe pain
- Episodes occurring for days or weeks
- Runny nose
- Redness of the eye
- Pupil constriction
- Sweaty face
- Blocked nostrils
Role of chiropractic and cluster headaches
Similar to migraines, the cause behind cluster headaches is thought to be neurovascular in which case, removing interference going to the brain and vascular system can provide relief. Your chiropractor can also help identify triggering factors.
Souza, T. A. (2014). Differential diagnosis and management for the chiropractor. Jones &
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Looking for a way to get your headaches or migraines under control?
Reach out to Ascension Chiropractic today. We have extensive experience working with headaches and migraines and are standing by to help you today.