Can Headaches be Relieved without Drugs?
If you never get headaches, this blog isn’t for you. And… you are lucky! However, it is likely that you get them sometimes. Approximately 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. They vary in frequency and intensity. For some people they are near constant, for others, they are occasional or rare. Some are intense, and others are modestly annoying. They can be debilitating and disabling. They cause people to miss work and social functions. They cause people to self-medicate, legally and otherwise. Sufferers seek all sorts of help, from massage, acupuncture, and meditation. Some headaches will only relent when a person can go to bed and “sleep it off.”
There are muscle tension headaches, toxic headaches (hangovers or food sensitivities or dehydration) and migraines. They all can cause loss of comfort and productivity. It is not unusual for headaches to make us a less nice and less tolerant version of ourselves. Headaches can adversely affect our relationships with family members, co-workers and employees. I know that when I am suffering a headache, I’m not as good a doctor, employer, husband, father or grandfather as I would like to be. My patience is thin and I get irritable and argumentative.
There is good news however. Headaches can be relieved, naturally, without medications and often without missing work or having to go to bed and shut out the lights and turn down the sound. Studies have shown that many headaches stem from problems with the spine, specifically the neck. Some studies say that neck problems account for 15 – 20% of headaches. These are referred to as “cervicogenic” headaches. Still other studies suggest that up to 75% of certain types of headaches stem from neck problems, (muscle tension or misalignment). In many chiropractic offices, the experience suggests perhaps even 90% of headaches will respond favorably to a chiropractic adjustment.
A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used1. Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches 2.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
- Your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
- Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
- Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back. (www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Headaches-and-Chiropractic)
- Many medical doctors, dentists and pain management specialists will recommend chiropractic for their headache patients either before they prescribe medications, or after medications have failed. I know when I have a headache, I can’t wait to get adjusted. If the data is correct, and you are reading this article, we should be hearing from 9 out of 10 of you very soon!