If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Most Australians suffer from headaches. For many people this can happen on occasion but for some headaches can really impact their daily life. Headaches may range from a dull throbbing pain through to debilitating pain and nausea. While taking a pain relief tablet may alleviate symptoms for a short period of time, there is a better alternative to long-term headache relief.
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include dehydration by not drinking enough water, food intolerance, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviours (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About five percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.
Most primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Australians now engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer or smart device). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
What Can You Do?
If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a smart device, or reading, take a break and stretch every 20 minutes. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion. While it is good to get up and move around, you can easily do this with some simple stretches in your office chair.
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 aerobic activities.
Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lower teeth, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headache.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
How Chiropractic Care can help
A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain. A previous study also found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improved migraine and cervicogenic headaches.
Chiropractors treat headaches through firstly identifying where the source of your headaches arises. They will conduct any/all of the following to treat patients:
- Perform spinal manipulation or gentle chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system
- Provide some nutritional advice if your headaches are related to poor eating habits
- Offer 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.
Chiropractors undergo extensive training to help relieve patients from pain. They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to address those problems.