According to the latest surveys, nine out of ten Americans suffer from some form of headaches. Some are occasional,
some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. Each type of these pains
has different origin therefore it should be approached and treated differently.
Ninety-five percent of headaches are called "primary" and are associated with muscle tension in the neck, poor posture,
dehydration, stress or other factors which can be easily eliminated, relived or adjusted to. Certain chemicals in foods
and beverages, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, deficiency of fresh air) as well as sleeplessness,
excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, elevated blood pressure may cause head pain. About 5 percent of all headaches
are just warning signals caused by physical problems, for that reason ignoring them or treating them with pain medications
is usually not wise - instead they should be well investigated.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
If you suffer from a primary headache, your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following:
perform spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustments) to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on
release of muscle and soft tissue adhesions
provide nutritional and supplementation advice while recommending modification in diet
offer an 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.
Research shows that spinal manipulation performed by doctors of chiropractic is safe and an effective treatment option for
tension headaches and neck related headaches. A reports released by Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center and Journal
of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for
those headaches, had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly
Remember that if your headache is symptomatic of a health problem that needs the care of another discipline your doctor
of chiropractic will refer you to an appropriate specialist.
What can I do to limit my headaches?
Be aware of your body. Be grounded and connected to all signs that you experience
Drink at least 64 ounces of pure water a day. Dehydration can often lead to long lasting headaches. Avoid carbonated and
caffeinated soft drinks and coffee. Caffeine is a powerful neuro-stimulant and diuretic.
If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, typing or reading, take a
break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through comfortable ranges of motion.
Low-impact exercise or swimming may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches.
Avoid heavy exercise if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches. Instead engage in such activities as walking and
Avoid teeth clenching. Ask your dentist to assist you with picking a correct night guard. The upper teeth should never
touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) which may lead to
chronic tension headaches.
Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light,
noise, or abrupt movements.
Alcohol dehydrates your body and lead to headaches
Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products,
red meat and salty foods.