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HOW COMMON ARE & WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HEADACHES?
One in 8 Australians suffer from recurring, severe headaches & migraines that interfere with daily life, with about 15% of women & 7% of men suffering from migraines. At any one time 15% of the population are experiencing head pain. Many people have had headaches for so long that they accept them as something they have to live with; but the truth is, you don’t have to! The key to stopping your headaches is to find out their exact cause.
Tension headaches: Steady dull pain that “caps” the scalp
Mild to moderate pain
Tension in your neck or head
Mild sensitivity to light or sound
Cluster headaches: Watery, swollen eyes
Pain near the forehead or around the eyes
A series of headaches
Penetrating non-throbbing pain
Migraine headaches: Moderate to severe pain
Extreme sensitivity to light
SO WHAT CAUSES HEADACHES?
Headaches have many causes, (also known as triggers). These include, but are not limited to…certain foods, environmental stimuli (noises, flashing lights etc), stress &/or trauma to the spine. Each of these headache ‘triggers’ can disrupt the delicate balance of your nervous system. They may even alter the proper position of your spinal column, causing a condition known as Vertebral Subluxation (a spinal misalignment). If left untreated, Vertebral Subluxations can lead to irreversible spinal degeneration.
CAN CHIROPRACTIC HELP HEADACHES? THE RESEARCH SAYS…
Absolutely! Chiropractic is a natural method of correcting underlying structural problems that can lead to headaches. Chiropractic adjustments reduce the nerve, muscle, & ligament irritation which have been scientifically proven to cause headaches. A study done in Australia of 200 headache sufferers concluded that spinal adjustments combined with specific exercises significantly reduced headache frequency & intensity. (Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, Zito G, Niere K, Shirley D, Emberson J, Marschner I, Richardson C. A randomised controlled trial of exercise & manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine 2002 Sep 1; 7(17): 1835-43; discussion 1843)
Research has shown the effectiveness & success of chiropractic adjustments directed towards the top 2 cervical (neck) vertebrae & the adjustments effects on migraine headaches. In a study done at Northwestern Chiropractic College in the U.S in 1995, 150 headache sufferers compared the effectiveness of spinal adjusting with pharmaceutical treatment for chronic tension-type headaches. The spinal adjustment group demonstrated a reduction of 32% in headache intensity, a reduction of 42% in headache frequency, a reduction of 30% in over-the-counter medication usage & an improvement of 16% in functional health status. By comparison, the medication group showed no improvement or a slight worsening using the same major outcome measures. This group also reported a number of side effects from taking the medication. Four weeks after cessation of treatment….the patients who had received spinal adjustments experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast to the patients that received medication. (Boline P, Kassak K, Bronfort G, et al. Spinal Manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension type headaches – a randomized clinical trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther; 1995 18(3): 148-54)
A study performed at a University in Denmark of 53 headache sufferers investigated the effect of soft tissue therapy & spinal adjusting. The researchers investigated what effects the therapy had specifically on: number of headache hours per day, analgesic used per day & headache intensity per episode.
- The number of headache hours per day decreased by 69% in the spinal adjusting group, compared with 37% in the soft tissue group.
- The use of analgesics per day decreased by 36% in the spinal adjusting group, but was unchanged in the soft-tissue group.
- Finally, headache intensity per episode decreased by 36% in the spinal adjusting group, compared with 17% in the soft tissue group. (Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther; 1997 Jun; 20(5): 326-30)
* No medication, no general manipulation, & no exercise…can substitute for a specific chiropractic adjustment!