Recognizing Headache Triggers

Approximately 90% of men and 95% of women report having a headache in the last twelve months. What is surprising is that 48% of them report that they have no idea what is causing the headache and 33% are taking over the counter (OTC) medication for these headaches everyday or at least once a week. OTCs don't address the cause of the pain and therefore don't prevent future headaches. OTC medication can also have serious side effects, especially if taken heavily.

Wouldn't if make sense to first find the cause of the headaches and then treat the cause while also working to relieve your pain? Fortunately, at Newbold Chiropractic we intend to do just that.

Diagnosis at our office begins with a thorough examination as well as a health history regarding diet, headache frequency and severity, accident history, and activities of your daily life.

Tension headaches are the most common, affecting up to 95% of the population. The pain is generally mild to moderate and felt at the neck and scalp. Triggers of tension headaches include emotional stress, poor sitting posture, gripping a telephone between the shoulder and head and driving in heavy traffic. These headaches can become chronic so that people suffer from them daily.

Vascular headaches are intensely throbbing and are caused when blood vessels supplying the scalp and brain rapidly dilate. These show up as migraine or cluster headaches and can last as long as eight days. Migraine pain is often severe and debilitating. There are two types of migraines, those with aura and those without. Aura is a visual disturbance as when jagged lines or flashing lights are seen in the visual field. The symptoms of migraines also include throbbing pain usually on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by deviations in structure of the neck, including the cervical vertebrae, discs, ligaments, and joints. This type of headache comes up suddenly and can be triggered by poor posture, and irritation to vertebral nerve roots. Cervicogenic headaches can mimic migraines and tension headaches, but with an exam, the chiropractor can differentiate between the different types of headaches and their causes.

Only after a diagnosis is made and the cause is clear will treatment begin, IF it is determined that chiropractic care is the type of care that will address your headache most effectively. If not, a referral will be made. Chiropractic treatment will begin with the goal of improving function and relieving pain. Spinal adjustments are utilized to improve spinal alignment. At Newbold Chiropractic we may also include massage and electrical stimulation as well as home exercise and stretches and diet recommendations.

Once you know what is causing your headaches, it will be much easier to prevent them in the future. For example, if your headaches are caused by skipping meals, you will be advised to eat meals regularly. If you get cervicogenic headaches, you will be advised to maintain spinal alignment such as improving posture, home stretches and exercises. To truly prevent future headaches you must follow the recommended changes to your lifestyle and keep healthcare appointments. They are your headaches and you can take control or you can let them control you.

October 24, 2018