Headaches and Migraines

Overview

If you’re a sufferer of chronic headaches or migraines, you don’t need convincing that they’re one of the most painful, debilitating conditions you could possibly suffer. Millions upon millions of dollars a year are spent on trying to find relief from this crippling illness. But what causes migraines? Basically it’s a decrease in oxygen to the brain. If the brain receives less oxygen per milliliter of blood, it will simply increase the amount of blood flow to increase the overall amount of oxygen received. In order to increase the amount of blood flow it must dilate the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. When these vessels dilate, it stretches pain fibres that wrap around the outside of these vessels. When these pain fibres are stretched they are activated and start sending pain signals into the brain, resulting in your perception of pain.

Chronic headaches and migraines may also be caused by a misalignment or dysfunction of a vertebra in the top of the neck. This then causes inflammation and tension of the joints, muscles and blood vessels at the base of the neck, which then transfers pain up into the skull.

So what can chiropractic do to help? By performing gentle but specific adjustments to the neck and upper back we restore the normal alignment and function of the vertebrae in the neck, which removes the tension that causes headache and migraine symptoms. As well as removing the tension, the inflammation around the joints, muscles and blood vessels is decreased and the pain fibres begin to be deactivated.

177 volunteers who had been suffering neck pain and migraines for over 18 years entered a study. All of those who received chiropractic care were able to reduce their medication intake, with a significant number reducing their intake to zero. Additionally, 59% reported no neck pain after 2 months, and another 35% had a significant decrease in neck pain.
This is not the only study to show these results; there have been dozens more which all show similar outcomes.

There are other factors that contribute to headaches, but these figures, and chiropractors’ everyday experiences show that neck problems are a huge contributor.

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? The answer may be simple. Come in and see what we can do.

 

Symptoms

Migrane

  • Moderate to severe headache that is often one sided and feels as if the head is pulsating

  • Nausea and visual disturbance, aggravated by physical activity

  • May last a few hours to a few days

Tension Headache

  • Feeling of pressure and tightness both in the head and neck

  • May also last a few hours to a few days, however chronic episodes may be unremitting for much longer periods of time.

Cluster Headache

  • Brief severe headaches several times during a day

  • Pain is focused in one area around the eye

  • Drooping of the eyelid

  • Redness and tear production in the eye

  • Runny or blocked nose on the affected side

The period in which cluster headaches are present typically lasts for 6-12 weeks. Episodic cluster headaches may last one week or up to a year, whereas chronic cluster headaches typically last over a year with pain free periods lasting less than a month at a time.

 

Causes

Both tension type headaches and migraines are associated with triggers such as hormonal changes, dietary changes and stress. According to the World Health Organisation, migraines are caused by the activation of a mechanism in the brain that is responsible for releasing the hormones that stimulate pain and inflammation around the nerves and blood vessels in the head. Tension type headaches are typically triggered by stress and musculoskeletal issues within the head and neck. Unlike the other types of headaches, cluster headaches are thought to be triggered by abnormalities within the hypothalamus, although the exact cause is unknown.

Diagnosis

A health professional will use a range of techniques to determine the type of headache you may be experiencing. They will discuss the description of the headache and the symptoms you have noticed as well as conducting a physical examination. In some cases an x-ray or MRI may be needed if the symptoms are unusual or potentially dangerous, such as a headache that changes or worsens suddenly.  

Chiropractic Care

The purpose of chiropractic care at Turramurra Chiropractic is help you to be able to do the thing that you love to do and to do them well. To do this it is first necessary to get a clear picture of the problem which is done by taking a thorough history and performing a comprehensive assessment. Understanding your history is critical to identifying the cause(s) and contributing factors that have led your health to where it is currently. The assessment includes a neurological, orthopaedic, motion, posture examinations amongst others. In some cases further investigation may be required. Once we have all the relevant information we will discuss your specific needs and develop a plan of action with you. There will be ample opportunity for you to discuss the proposed care and ask any questions before proceeding.

 

Do you or some one you know experience headaches or migrain? Give our chiropractors in Turramurra call on 9440 8003 to discuss.

 

References
Healthline.com. (2019). Neck pain: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/symptom/neck-pain [Accessed 20 Jan. 2019].
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Cluster headache – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20352080 [Accessed 22 Jan. 2019].
Uptodate.com. (2019). UpToDate. [online] Available at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/headache-causes-and-diagnosis-in-adults-beyond-the-basics [Accessed 22 Jan. 2019].