Headache Relief Through Chiropractic
by Martin S. Gildea
There are many different types of headaches afflicting people for different reasons. Migraine headaches are usually the most severe, and could have a plethora of triggers, both environmental and organic. Hormone fluctuations can often cause what most women refer to as the “period headache”. Pharmaceuticals such as high blood pressure medicine, as well as many head traumas, can lead to headaches. Abnormal posture, poor prolonged posture, both sleeping and repetitive, can also be a risk.
Perhaps the most common cause is stress. Abnormal posture and stress lead to the most common type of headache known as the tension headache. Headaches are classified as chronic if they occur 15 out of 30 days over a three-month period. These chronic headaches affect 4 to 6 percent of the world’s population and about 45 million Americans daily. Regardless of the cause, the most important step is getting the right diagnosis so we can get the correct treatment.
Chiropractors are well-equipped to handle most types of headaches, but really shine as the go-to doctor of choice with chronic tension headaches, as inflammation, joint fixation and muscle spasm (tight muscles) in the neck, head, jaw and upper back are usually an adverse shared trait among this headache type.
Testing. A food intolerance test (FIT) is a great place to start, especially with migraine headaches, because many are triggered by certain foods. Posture screenings are very revealing and show which muscles are working too hard. Sometimes neck X-rays are indicated if there were previous traumas such as car accidents or sports injuries, which often lead to scar tissue and early arthritic changes.
Treatments. Chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) can restore normal range of motion and take pressure off painful nerves, as well as providing a rush of endorphins similar to a “runner’s high”. Laser therapy uses a highly focused light beam that penetrates the tissues deep enough to increase healing by 300 to 900 percent reducing hypertonic (tight) muscles and acting as an anti-inflammatory. Traction, followed by electrotherapy and cryotherapy (ice), takes pressure off painful nerves involved by gently stretching the head and neck, which also interrupts the pain/spasm cycle. The electric pulsing relaxes the muscles restoring a normal tonicity, and ice is the best natural anti-inflammatory.
For more acute headaches or those that have been occurring for less than two weeks, it may take only a few treatments over one to two weeks to ameliorate the headaches. Chronic headaches, however, usually require a longer treatment period where the treatment is more frequent in the beginning, and then a patient’s schedule is reduced over a longer period, with some patients opting for quarterly checkups.
Dr. Martin Gildea DC, CFMP, DACBN is the founder of Gildea Health & Wellness, located at 806 Holly Pike, in Mount Holly Springs. For more information, call 717-486-8189 or visit GildeaHealthAndWellness.com.