7 REASONS PEOPLE GET HEADACHES… AND WHAT CHIROPRACTORS DO ABOUT THEM
Whether caused by a stuffy nose, stress, or a migraine, headaches are a common form of suffering for most people. According to headache specialist Dr. Eliot Shevel, over 28 million Americans suffer from migraines alone! The following are seven causes of headaches and what you can do to alleviate the pain.
Call it brain freeze. Call it a cold headache. It still hurts! Actually, while doctors don’t know the exact cause of ice cream headaches, one theory, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that the cold ice cream hits the warm roof of your mouth and causes blood vessels to constrict or tighten up. This helps the body protect the brain from injury due to the drastic temperature change. Once the body adjusts to the new temperature, the blood vessels relax, making the pain go away.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: Slow down on eating! Actually, the pain will naturally go away once the cold food or drink is swallowed, so be patient. It will work itself out.
Concussions, usually caused by severe upper body shaking or a sharp blow to the head, can cause painful headaches as well as difficulty seeing/concentrating and vomiting or seizures. Think of your brain like a bowl of gelatin (since that is the brain’s natural consistency). This jiggly consistency protects the brain from regular bounces and jolts. But a sharp blow to the head or severe shaking can cause the brain to bounce violently off the inner skull walls, resulting in temporary injury.
Concussions are serious business, especially since they can cause seizures, brain bleeding, or swelling of the brain. When you experience a blow to the head or severe shaking, seek medical help, even if you’re not immediately experiencing symptoms.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: Your chiropractor can check for any possible neck injuries (which often occur with concussive brain injuries) and administer cervical adjustments to help ease neck and some head pain. The chiropractor also will most likely recommend physical and mental rest while the brain heals, along with avoiding aspirin, alcohol, and anti-inflammatories. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have suffered any serious blows to the head before. Secondary brain injury is dangerous and should be addressed.
Subluxations are misalignments in the spine. They occur when the spine’s vertebrae slip out of alignment and cause pressure on the nervous system. This can cause pain, muscle tension, and poor performance of the body’s natural functions.
Some headaches are caused by misalignments in the cervical vertebrae (the discs in the neck) that cause nerve pressure and muscle tension in the neck. Tense muscles interrupt the nerve messages from the neck to the brain and can pull the vertebrae out of alignment, causing those pesky misalignments.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: Medication only masks the symptom instead of addressing the problem. Your chiropractor will perform cervical adjustments and help relieve muscle tension (through trigger point therapy or massage) to help reduce misalignments.
Vision issues can cause the headaches you feel around the forehead and behind the eyes region of your head. When the eye muscles strain to see, they put pressure on the optic nerve. Nerve pressure leads to headaches. Muscle strain can be caused by poor vision, bright lights, or staring too long at a screen or book.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: By adjusting the upper cervical vertebrae (C-1 and C-2), chiropractors can help relieve some pain caused by eye strain. They often recommend taking breaks from looking at screens and books too long. Also, protect your eyes from bright lights by wearing sunglasses while outside.
If you are having trouble reading the computer screen, seeing things in the distance, or focusing on the print in the book you’re reading, have your eyes checked to see if you need vision correction.
Sinusitis, the swelling of the sinus membranes, puts pressure on the nose, forehead, and cheeks. This can cause headaches that make you feel like your nose is going to fall off your face (not literally, but…you get the picture).
A common cause of sinusitis is an infection, though general inflammation from allergies or other irritants can cause those sinuses to swell. Sinusitis can also occur during a migraine headache due to pressure buildup in the head.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: Chiropractors usually conduct a physical examination to determine the cause of the swelling. They can apply pressure to the joints in the face, skull, or spine (through processes known as chiropractic manipulative therapy and light-force cranial manipulation) to help relieve pressure and straighten misalignments that are putting pressure on the facial nerves.
To relieve sinuses that are blocked by mucous, chiropractors can insert balloons into the nasal passages and force open the sinus cavities. This method, known as the nasal-specific technique, allows the passages to drain. Chiropractors may also activate other trigger points on the body to release the sinuses and recommend compresses (either warm or cold) to help ease sinus pressure.
Change in Sleep Routine
Sleep is the time when the body and mind can relax and repair themselves. When we get inadequate sleep, our bodies let us know. One way is through headaches.
Sleep disorders are a common trigger for many migraine sufferers. Disorders like insomnia (where you have difficulty falling or staying asleep for weeks on end) or sleep apnea (a disorder that causes you to stop breathing while sleeping) can cause the brain to miss out on the deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep needed to feel rested and alert.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: While a sleep study may be necessary for conditions like sleep apnea, chiropractors often make recommendations to help with sleep disorders like insomnia, such as:
- Go to bed at a set time every night (including weekends).
- Take a warm bath in the evening.
- Avoid reading from computers or tablets for at least one hour before bed.
- Sleep in a well-ventilated room.
- Hang dark curtains or use a sleep mask to block as much light as possible.
- Get some cardiovascular exercise during the day (a quick walk at lunch is great for this), but avoid exercising 3-4 hours before bedtime.
Brain Tumors…VERY RARE
While headaches are not and should not be a normal part of life, in very rare cases they can signify a bigger issue like a brain tumor either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Headaches from a brain tumor are usually accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
- Tension headaches that have the intensity change or that last several days or weeks.
- Migraine headaches that produce an aura that changes over time.
- “Red flag” symptoms including:
- Changes in previous headache patterns.
- Headaches that are unresponsive to therapy.
- Any new motor, sensory, or visual symptoms or signs.
- Changes in memory, thinking, or personality.
- Prolonged or repetitive vomiting.
- Headaches that get worse when bending over, coughing, sneezing, or straining.
Recommended Chiropractic Treatment: When a brain tumor is a possibility, your chiropractor can work with your primary physician to get the appropriate testing and determine the type of tumor you have. While cancer treatments often involve chemotherapy or radiation therapy, chiropractic adjustment can help with the pain involved with those treatments, there are also many great alternative holistic treatments.
Your chiropractor can also help you develop a lifestyle that reduces your risk of cancer. Along with spinal manipulation therapy, chiropractors can help you with nutrition, exercise programs, and therapies to help you lead a long, healthy life. Ready to get started. Check out Pure Family Chiropractic in Brookfield, New Berlin, or Williams Bay and reserve your appointment today.