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How a Chiropractor Can Help Your Chronic Headaches

Everyone gets headaches from time to time, and the pain usually goes away on its own or can be remedied with over-the-counter medications…

But sometimes, headaches can be more severe and occur more often. This can be the sign of an underlying condition and your Keith Clinic chiropractor may be able to help!

Types of Headaches

There are numerous types of headaches and causes (or “triggers”) for them. It is important to talk with our doctors about your symptoms and possible causes of your headaches to best determine a proper treatment plan. Here are the most common types of headaches we see and can help treat:

  • Cervicogenic Headaches

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache that is the result of an injury or trauma somewhere in your neck. Whiplash, or acceleration-deceleration injuries, are very common in auto accidents or falls and are usually the cause of a cervicogenic headache. Chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapies as well as strengthening exercises can help alleviate pain and heal the underlying injury that is causing these headaches.

  • Migraine Headaches

Migraines are highly intense, sometimes debilitating headaches. They usually only affect one side of your head, and these headaches can cause:

  •         nausea and/or vomiting
  •         pain behind one eye or ear
  •         pain in the temples
  •         seeing spots or flashing lights
  •         sensitivity to light and/or sound
  •         temporary vision loss

Most migraines are directly caused by diet, stress, or biological predisposition. High blood pressure, food allergies, or other non-injury related factors are usually the true triggers to most migraines. These factors can cause vascular constriction, which means blood vessels become smaller, carrying less blood to the brain. This is the similar reaction we have when we drink too much alcohol and become “hung over.”

  • Suboccipital Headaches

Throbbing or pulsing pain behind your eye followed by a massive headache? This is a common description we hear for suboccipital headaches. The suboccipital area below the skull is at the back of your head, right at the base where the muscles attach to the skull. This is also the area where the first two vertebrae of your spine create an atlanto-axial joint, allowing your head to swivel and pivot.

With that large number of nerves and muscles in a small area, even a small injury can cause the surrounding tissue to become affected negatively and cause symptoms such as the throbbing pain around the eyes. This is also a common issue for people who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time or use poor posture throughout the day. Chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapies can restore normal movement to the area and decrease muscle tightness.

  • TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Headaches)

A TMJ headache is one with intense jaw pain or a clicking sound in the jaw. This is a less common headache we see, but one that still happens. People who regularly grind their teeth in their sleep or when they’re nervous or anxious will sometimes develop TMJ headaches.

An auto collision resulting in misalignment of the jawbone is another reason we see TMJ pain and headaches. Either whiplash or the chin striking the steering wheel can cause the jaw to become misaligned, resulting in pain even days after the crash. Consulting with one of our doctors will best help determine what could be causing you to have TMJ headaches.

  • Rebound Headaches

Probably one of the most overlooked types of headaches. Rebound headaches (medication-overuse headaches) are caused by regular, long-term use of medication to treat headaches, such as migraine. Pain relievers offer relief for occasional headaches. But if you take them more than a couple of days a week, they may trigger rebound headaches. If you have fallen into this category, chiropractic care has been shown as an effective tool to help reduce the overuse of the medication that is causing the headache.

What Can You Do?

  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
  • For home exercises to help alleviate stress and tension on the neck go to our exercise page:
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.

What Can a Chiropractor Do to Help?

  • If the cause of your headache is related to joint misalignment or fixation that is irritating the nerve, then a chiropractic adjustment may absolutely release pressure on the joint and surrounding nerve to alleviate headache pain.
  • Chiropractic doctors are trained to assess muscle and joint dysfunction and by treating both simultaneously with therapies such as massage, ultrasound, and electric muscle stimulation, chiropractic can address the direct cause, not just treat the symptoms like a Tylenol or Ibuprofen would do. Schedule a visit with our chiropractic doctors today.