Your headache may be a pounding in your head, aching in your neck, pain behind the eye, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. When will the pain stop? You may have suffered from some of these common symptoms reported by headache patients. Annually millions of Americans suffer from headache pain making it the most commonly treated ailment. In an effort to control the pain, billions of dollars of pain medicine is prescribed each year, but often the pain continues. With more doctors consulted and more drugs taken, the search continues, often without hope. Yet there is an alternative, drugless approach to headache management that helps the pain by decreasing the frequency and the severity of the headaches.
Doctors and researchers understand that headaches often originate from malfunction of the joints of the neck. While the joints may feel okay, but they may not be moving with the correct balance of motion across the spine. This results in a cascade of problems and, commonly, a headache disorder. The degree of headache is often in direct relation to the degree of dysfunction in the neck. The physical stress of life, work, and past accidents can cause this neck malfunction. Even emotional stress can cause these neck tension affecting the nerves, muscles, and joints of the neck, head, and jaw.
Complicated headache disorders often involve multiple factors in addition to neck joint dysfunction. Any combination of hormones imbalance, medication, environmental chemicals, and food sensitivities can culminate into a headache disorder. The most frightening causes of headache are pathologies (tumors, strokes) of the head and brain and blood vessels. While these are rare, the possibility of these dangerous causes of headache compounds a headache sufferer’s anxiety and adds to the confusion as to where to get help. Our doctors have special training in the assessment and treatment of headache pain. Having consulted thousands of patients, they have a unique appreciation for the frustration that those with headaches often feel.
Yet there is an alternative, drugless approach to headache management that helps the pain by decreasing the frequency and the severity of the headaches.
Most headaches can be diagnosed by a doctor asking the right questions and carefully examining the neck and head. A trial of non-invasive, conservative treatment is often prudent. Yet our doctors sometimes need to order MRI or blood testing to reveal the correct cause of the headache. They also work with some of the most respected neurologists in the area to insure proper diagnosis and treatment of the headaches. If your case needs medical attention, you will be referred for appropriate assistance.
Fortunately, most headaches originate from malfunction of the joints of the neck. Spinal manipulation, massage, dry needling, and other therapies may be best for improving how the head, neck, and jaw function. Not all headaches are alike and the treatments will vary depending on multiple factors. A treatment plan will be designed specifically for you according to your goals. Plans also may involve nutritional changes, posture practice, and exercises to address other triggering factors.
Headache responds best to multimodal treatment strategies.
Practice stress management. This is a big request, but it is the most important. Avoid self-inflicted stress. Mitigate unavoidable stress. Many people benefit from learning personal skills that helps control the body’s response to life’s stressors.
Exercise/play regularly. Moderate aerobic exercise, like a 25 minute brisk walk, does wonders for your physical and emotional well-being. Exercise daily, if possible, but not less than three times per week. Exercise also buffers stress, as long as it isn’t high intensity exercise for greater than 30 minutes. If activity worsens your headache, you may need a different strategy.
Mind your posture habits. When talking on the phone, don’t prop it on your shoulder. Don’t sleep on your stomach or put your neck in a straining position. Evaluate your posture habits for situations that put your neck in a strain. Poor posture may be adding to your problem.
Study your diet. Keep an eye out for foods or chemicals that could trigger your headache. Some headaches are triggered by chocolate, MSG in food, or to certain perfumes. Consider discussing a metabolic detox plan with your doctor. Once you eliminate potential food or environmental triggers, you may find the offending chemical during the re-introduction phase.