Everybody experiences headaches once in awhile. Sometimes, the pain is so mild that we barely notice. Other times, it can be so severe and jarring that it is practically debilitating. Most people have grown accustomed to reaching for a bottle of aspirin or similar over-the-counter drug to gain relief. Some people even ask their doctors for prescription medications.
Do they work? Yes. The drawback, however, is that these medications serve only to address the immediate symptom: the pain. They ignore, even camouflage, the underlying causes of a headache. For this reason, the pain is all but guaranteed to return.
Chiropractic care offers a solution. In this article, we’ll describe the main types of headaches, and describe the factors that cause them. We’ll then explore how chiropractic treatment not only seeks to dispel the pain, but also to resolve the root causes.
Types Of Headaches And Their Catalysts
Headaches can be triggered by many different stimuli. For example, they can arise from prolonged tension in the muscles, straining of the eyes, stress, congested sinuses, and factors affecting the blood vessels. Depending on the triggers, you might experience pain at the base of your skull, along the temples, or behind your eyes. Successfully treating headaches with chiropractic care requires identifying the type of headache from which the patient suffers.
The main types are migraine, tension, and cervicogenic headaches. Migraines are typically caused by changes in the blood vessels. Tension headaches are usually due to issues affecting the muscles (often, stress-induced). Cervicogenic headaches spring from pain emanating from the neck. We’ll take a closer look at migraines and tension headaches below.
Treating Migraine Headaches
Migraines are the least-understood of the three headache varieties. Experts know they arise from vascular influences, but the catalysts are diverse and include environmental stimuli. For example, a migraine may be triggered by changes in the weather; they can be set off by the consumption of certain foods; they might also be caused by hormonal changes (e.g. estrogen in women), stress, and various medications.
There is a sufficient body of research that suggests vascular problems are influenced by neck and spinal misalignments. Hence, chiropractic care focuses on addressing such subluxations in order to return the body to its natural state. By resolving misalignments, a chiropractor can minimize problems associated with the nervous system, and thus improve blood flow. This not only reduces immediate pain, but can also prevent subsequent migraines.
Treating Tension Headaches
As noted earlier, tension headaches are usually caused by stress. The muscles in the neck and shoulders contract, resulting in unnecessary tension. This tension affects the nerves within your spinal cord. For most people, the stress arises as the result of irritation, emotional turmoil, or something that triggers their -fight or flight- response mechanism. As long as the stimuli dissipates, the stress usually does, too.
In many cases, however, a person may be constantly exposed to factors that cause him or her stress. The stimuli never dissipates. If this happens, the muscle contractions may become protracted, leading to compensatory changes in posture. This, in turn, causes subluxations, which can trigger pain. As with treating migraines, chiropractic care can resolve tension headaches by targeting – and resolving – vertebral misalignments.
Understanding The Focus Of Chiropractic Care
The overriding principle of chiropractic care is that many ailments that needlessly afflict people are due to spinal subluxations. By adjusting the spine, the experienced chiropractor can improve nerve signals that travel to and from the brain. Improved nerve transmission leads to better health.
This is a marked departure from the approach taken by conventional medicine. While prescription drugs focus on the immediate symptoms that arise from any given condition, chiropractic treatment addresses the underlying triggers. This is the case when treating headaches. Not only do spinal and neck adjustments typically yield immediate relief, but they also make the symptoms less likely to return.