The most common form of headaches are tension headaches caused by stress, including postural stress. Chiropractic care can alleviate headache pain by aligning the spine and joints to allow for unrestricted nervous system function.
What are the different types of headaches that people experience and how do you describe the pain and symptoms experienced with each type?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, there are over 250 different types of headaches, Liz, but the four main or more common headaches that we see are your migraines, your cluster headaches, your tension headaches, and/or your sinus headaches.
The one that we probably see and we treat the most in our office is the tension headache. They tend to cause mild to moderate pain that can come and go pretty regularly throughout the month. The pain is usually a dull pain or a pressure that can start right in the forehead and wrap around the sides of our head or it can start in the back of our skull and it can wrap around to the sides of our head. They can last anywhere from 30 minutes and some people experience them for up to two or three days.
What are some common causes of these different types of headaches?
Dr. Luke Stringer: In one word, Liz, stress. Stress comes in many forms. Specifically, environmental and physical and when you combine those two together, they can really play havoc in terms of how we feel and function on a day to day basis.
The biggest trigger that we find in our office when treating patients is postural stress. People who sit for a living. The average American has to sit for over nine hours a day and over time the sedentary lifestyle just breaks the spine down and it damages the soft tissue, which over time kind of shifts the spine and the joints out of alignment. And when you shift out of alignment in the upper part of your neck, in those upper cervicals, a real common side effect or cause of that shift is headaches.
What are some signs to look for to know when it’s time to get your headaches checked by a doctor?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, great question. Around 80% of Americans suffer with some sort of a headache throughout their lifetime. However, a headache is not a normal response for us to be feeling and or functioning. So, if you’re suffering with headaches regularly, say more than twice a month and you have been for more than a month, I’d really strongly advise you to seek out a chiropractor and have them evaluate it. Especially if they start affecting your daily activity such as migraines. Things that stop you essentially from being able to function as you would please.
You know, essentially what you want to try and do is take care of a problem in its infancy. The longer we leave it, the more chronic it becomes and usually with headaches, it’s a repetitive issue. So, when we do shift and we become symptomatic, the longer we leave it, the more damage we’re doing to that joint, that tissue and/or that nerve.
What type of chiropractic treatment is performed to target headache pain? And how does the treatment actually work and how soon can a typical patient feel relief?
Dr. Luke Stringer: There are many different forms of chiropractic, and many different forms help with conditions such as headaches, but regardless of the type of chiropractor you’re seeing, a thorough evaluation of the spine and nervous system should always be performed before treating headaches. Once this is done, and the root cause of the issue is diagnosed and identified, a typical course of treatment will be adjustments to the spine.
This is where joints shift out of alignment. They become fixated and put a lot of stress and tension on the nerve and adjustment removes the stress and tension from the joint and effectively from the nerve. We’re going to effectively treat headaches in terms of more of a long-term correction, we have to do some soft tissue work and break down what we call adhesion, which forms in our sub-occipitals, the muscles that anchor your skull into the top two vertebrae. Because when our spine shifts this tissue becomes really damaged and that poor posture pulls those joints out of alignment and puts a massive amount of stress and tension onto those nerve roots into the upper cervical spine and those are the nerves that innovate the eyes, ears, nose, and throat, which essentially cause headaches.
So, by removing the stress and the tension from the upper cervical spine through adjustments and through addressing the soft tissue, you combine that with some postural re-education and some rehabilitation to strengthen and stabilize the structures to support our head and shoulders, relief is usually pretty quick. Again, it’s a case by case basis, but chiropractic care gets great effective, long lasting results when it comes to treating headaches specifically.
Can regular chiropractic treatments help people avoid getting headaches?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Certainly. Regular chiropractic checkups is just kind of like going to the gas station or going to the car shop and having the oil changed in your car. You know, we change the oil in our car every three months, 5,000 miles. We keep the cars running smoothly. And that’s being proactive. Make sure your car is running well and so hopefully you can avoid any issues like breaking down, which becomes a massive inconvenience.
By having your spine and nervous system checked by a chiropractor you’re doing the exact same thing. You’re checking for those joint subluxations or joints that are fixed and out of alignment, which puts stress and tension on to those nerves and by removing those subluxations it’s allowed the spine and the nervous system to function as it’s designed to do, which should be, you know, full optimal expression. Essentially, a pain free, unrestricted lifestyle.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.