Headaches are a very common condition affecting around 15% of Australians at any one time. Whist headaches can occasionally be a symptom of serious underlying disease, the vast majority of headaches are not, but rather tend to cause pain and discomfort and affect a person’s quality of life.
There are several types of headaches with the most common being tension, cluster and migraine headaches. Headaches often originate in your neck and are characterised by pain and tension in the head and neck regions. The severity can range from mild discomfort to pain, sometimes associated with dizziness or nausea. Migraines are generally more severe and can last for days. As well as neck and head pain sufferers can experience nausea and vomiting and occasionally photophobia (sensitivity to light).
Traditional treatment for headaches and migraines normally focuses on pharmaceutical medications. While these may be at times effective at addressing the symptoms they never address the underlying cause of the headache or migraine.
Tension headaches may be common but they are certainly not normal. As chiropractors we are trained in assessing the person as a whole and thus we investigate the underlying cause of the problem. As the name implies, tension headaches are caused by tightness in the shoulders radiating to the upper neck. As these muscles get tight they pull on the joints in the upper neck causing the classic tension headaches that involves tension in the shoulders and neck and headache behind the eyes or near the temples. Often this headache is worse at the end of the day (its often associated with poor and prolonged sitting posture).
At Wollongong Chiropractic and Wellness Centre we commonly treat patients for tension headaches. After taking a thorough initial examination we utilise soft tissue release, gentle joint adjustments, low force instrument adjusting and dry needling to address the causes of headaches.
We then work with the patient to identify why these headaches occurred. As such we examine posture (sitting, sleeping and activities), diet and lifestyle.
Recommendations and instructions are given to all patients aimed at modifying and counteracting the factors that contribute to the headaches.
Patients notice a reduction in their headaches which is often immediate. They also report easier and pain free movement of their necks and upper backs. This in turn leads to improved concentration, better sleep and a reduction in the need for medication.
Migraine headaches affect almost 2 million Australians. Migraine headaches are usually severe headaches that last anywhere from 24-72 hours and may have characteristic symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- A throbbing pain in the head
- An aura which can include visual disturbances
Migraines can often be debilitating for sufferers. The pain and discomfort can be so bad that sufferers need time off work to cope. The general noise of a family home can cause stress for some when the migraine hits. This is why episodes are often called “attacks”.
Chiropractic care of migraine sufferers includes muscle trigger point therapy, dry needling, joint mobilisation and adjustments to improve the functioning of spinal joints. Lifestyle modifications are also very important for migraine sufferers and chiropractors will discuss any modifications that can be made.
Research has shown chiropractic to be both safe and effective in not only the treatment of migraines but also the prevention. Chiropractic offers a natural alternative to pain medication. When utilised in combination with lifestyle modification chiropractic can help migraine sufferers return to leading a normal life, free from the pain and disruptions that migraines often cause.
If you suffer from headaches or migraines contact Wollongong Chiropractic and Wellness Centre to see if chiropractic may be of benefit to you.