Headaches & Migraines
More than 15 million Americans suffer from persistent recurring headaches. Pain medication only suppresses the symptoms and fails to correct the underlying cause. The cause may be muscle tension, vascular changes, sinus congestion, eyestrain, or some other underlying condition. It can start over the eyes, in the back of the head, on the sides or top of the head, or feel centered behind the eyes. The one thing all these headaches have in common is that they hurt, and sometimes they hurt a great deal.
What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? Repeated use of pain medication twice weekly or more may lead to “rebound headache syndrome” which makes the headaches worse, and can cause stomach, kidney, & liver problems. There are better alternatives.
According to reports from the University of Maryland Medical Center and Duke University, chiropractic can help in the treatment of tension and migraine headaches. In one study of people with migraines, 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of attacks. Also, 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine.
The report from the Duke University found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.
Acupuncture, massage therapy, dietary changes, and stress reduction techniques are also all helpful in treating and preventing headaches and migraines. In fact, most alternative care providers use many different techniques and methods to reduce the physical, chemical, and emotional stresses that trigger or cause headaches.
What can you do at home to ease the pain?
You may be able to help relieve a headache without medication by applying some simple common sense methods. Consider trying the following for temporary relief:
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the affected area which may numb and help alleviate the pain.
- Apply heat to the shoulder and/or neck muscles to help relax the muscles.
- Gently massage the back of the neck periodically to help reduce stress and discomfort.
- Lie down to rest in a quiet atmosphere with 1 rolled up towel or small pillow supporting the neck without pushing the head forward.
- Avoid bright lights and noise.
What can you do to help prevent headaches?
- Exercise regularly to stimulate the circulation of blood to the head and to maintain neuromusculoskeletal flexibility.
- Find time to take periods of rest to relax, close your eyes, breathe some fresh air and even take a brisk walk.
- Avoid situations of pressure and tension. Learn to cope with unavoidable stress more effectively.
- Avoid getting overtired to the point of exhaustion.
- Don't sleep on your stomach. Either sleep on your side with you head supported so that it is level with your spine, or on your back with a small pillow or rolled up towel supporting your neck rather than your head.
- Don't overindulge in food or drink, and don't smoke.
- Maintain good posture to help reduce misalignments in the bones of the neck.