For those who suffer from headaches, whether they be tension headaches or migraines, they can be debilitating to an extent that only sufferers can understand.
Headaches can affect your physical state to such a degree that they seriously affect your daily activities. The ability to ‘think straight’, nausea, eye pain, and sensitivity to light and sound are some of the common symptoms experienced by headache sufferers. Headaches can and often are treated with pain killers; however these are generally short-lived in their effectiveness. Once the drug wears off, back comes the pain and the feeling of despair coupled with the nagging question “Will I ever get rid of this”? Often the answer is a visit to your local chiropractor.
The way that chiropractic care helps in these cases of headaches has been shown to be to rectify a mis-alignment of the spinal vertebrae (referred to as vertebral subluxation) in the region of the neck. What happens is that this subluxation causes the muscles of the upper shoulder and neck to tighten. This combination of subluxation and tight muscles can cause pressure on nerves which, in turn, can then cause a headache.
Where your chiropractor comes into the picture is by addressing the vertebrae in the neck and correcting bio-mechanical problems with specific adjustments.
Once the correction has taken place the neck and shoulder muscles are able to relax. By correcting the mis-alignment any pressure on the nerves is reduced, which can then relieve the headache.
An important factor in the treatment of headaches through your chiropractor is that headaches caused by blocked, pinched or otherwise irritated nerves in the neck/spine areas, especially nerves that have been irritated over a period of time, can be relieved. In addition, once the pathway is ‘unblocked’ the body will look after itself and the healthy, headache-free state (which is normal for the body), can return.
In 1994 The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics conducted a study of 26 patients (16 males, 10 females) who all had chronic headaches with upper cervical joint dysfunction. Significant diminishing of the severity and frequency of headaches was reported in a large majority of the subjects (24 out of 26).
The occasional pain killer is fine for the ‘occasional headache’ – but for those who experience regular and sometimes constant headache pain the answer is often a visit to your local chiropractor to free those blocked nerve pathways.
Chiropractors work on the principle of reducing interference so the nervous system and body can work better. Providing that any symptom or condition is occurring as a result of nerve interference from vertebral subluxation, there is a very good chance that it will improve with chiropractic care; that has been the experience for most at Omagh Chiropractic.
What is a Tension-Type Headache?
A tension headache or tension-type headache is thought to be the most common type of headache. Usually people describe tension headaches as a tight and constricting band around their head. Pain generally increases as the day progresses with the pain at its worst in the late afternoon and early evening. Generally, the discomfort is reported as a dull and aching feeling across the forehead, at the temples, or at the base of the neck. Tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to a week. Some people experience these headaches rarely to occasionally while others report frequent episodes. A tension headache is different from migraine in that tension headaches are not usually associated with neurologic disturbances (changes in vision, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, sensitivity to light, sound and smell), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Although muscle tension and trigger points play a role in tension headaches, researchers now believe that abnormal changes in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) may be contributing to the cause. These headaches may be triggered by stress, anxiety, posture, clenching of the jaw, straining of the eyes and fatigue.
How is Tension-Type Headache Diagnosed?
Because there are no specific anatomical or biochemical abnormalities associated with tension-type headache, studies such as blood work, X-ray, MRI, or CT are not helpful in the diagnosis. Generally, tension headaches are diagnosed based on history and examination. In addition to the common tests your primary care doctors would perform, the chiropractors at Omagh Chiropractic will palpate (use their hands) to assess the muscles of the head and neck enabling them to find muscle tightness or weakness which may be contributing to your pain.
What are the Options for Treating Tension-Type Headache?
Research indicates that a hands-on approach may be the right strategy when it comes to tension-type headaches. Release of tight muscles with manual therapy, postural changes and therapeutic exercise combined with spinal manipulation may be the right approach for you. Managing stress is another important component to managing tension-type headaches. The chiropractor at Omagh Chiropractic will provide you with muscle relaxation exercises and other stress management tools which will enable you feel more in control of your stress-levels and your headaches. Chiropractic is a safe and effective approach that may provide you with relief.
1. Advances in the pathophysiology of tension-type headache: from stress to central sensitization. Chen Y. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2009 Dec;13(6):484-94.
2. Short-term effects of manual therapy on heart rate variability, mood state, and pressure pain sensitivity in patients with chronic tension-type headache: a pilot study. Toro-Velasco C, Arroyo-Morales M, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Cleland JA, Barrero-Hernández FJ. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Sep;32(7):527-35.
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4. Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension-type headaches: a randomized clinical trial. Boline PD, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Mar-Apr;18(3):148-54.
What is a Cervicogenic Headache?
Headaches sometimes originate from the neck. There are many muscles, joints, discs and ligaments in the neck that may refer pain to the head. These headaches are generally associated with neck pain and reduced movement. You may be interested to know that this type of headache is commonly misdiagnosed and often goes unrecognized. Classically, pain originates at the base of the neck (suboccipital region) and spreads to the head; however, cervicogenic headaches could be caused by dysfunction anywhere in the neck or shoulders. Patients report pain ranging from mild to severe; their headaches may be occasional or daily. When anatomical structures of the neck are stressed excessively (poor posture, prolonged slouching, injury, repetitive motion), imbalance and pain ensues. The chiropractor at Omagh Chiropractic are trained to diagnose and treat cervicogenic headaches; with the appropriate management, most patients with cervicogenic headache will experience relief.
How is Cervicogenic Headache Diagnosed?
Because there are no specific anatomical or biochemical abnormalities associated with cervicogenic headache, studies such as blood work, X-ray, MRI, or CT are not needed to establish the diagnosis. That being said, these tests may be ordered to rule out a more serious underlying condition. Generally, cervicogenic headaches are diagnosed based on history and examination. In addition to the common orthopedic and neurologic tests your primary care doctors would perform, the chiropractor at Omagh Chiropractic will palpate (use their hands) to assess the joints and muscles of the head and neck. This will enable them to find joint dysfunction, muscle tightness or weakness which may be contributing to your pain.
What are the Options for Treating Cervicogenic Headache?
Omagh Chiropractic offers a hands-on approach to treating cervicogenic headaches. Manual therapy (including cervical mobilization, myofascial release, and Active Release Techique™), ergonomic and lifestyle advice, therapeutic exercise, stretching, strengthening, and joint manipulation are provided by the Omagh chiropractor to correct imbalance, restore function, and decrease pain. Research indicates that a chiropractic approach including the methods mentioned above may be the right strategy when it comes to managing cervicogenic headaches. Chiropractic is a safe and effective. Omagh Chiropractic may have the solution for managing your headaches and provide you with relief.
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2. Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Spine J. 2009.
3. Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther.1997; 20:326 -330.
4. Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, Zito G, Niere K, Shirley D, et al. A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine.2002; 27:1835 -184.
What is a Migraine Headache?
Migraine headache is a condition that’s characterized by a disabling head pain attack. A lot of people describe migraine pain as pounding or pulsating, and it’s generally located on one side of the head. Sometimes people will tell us that the pain feels like it’s behind and in their eyes too. The discomfort generally lasts between 4-72 hours and is often preceded by an aura (usually a visual disturbance like zigzagging lights or temporary blindness) and accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine is generally seen in patients between the ages of 25-55. The cause of migraine is not yet fully understood; however, there are several well established theories. Although the condition was once believed to be purely vascular, we often find that migraines are linked to overly tight muscles in the head, neck, shoulders and jaw that can be constricting nerve and blood flow. That’s why chiropractic helps a lot of people who suffer with migraines. Every day, the Chiropractor of Omagh Chiropractic successfully treats people with migraines using a holistic approach that works.
What are Migraine Triggers?
There are a lot of recognized migraine triggers. A recent study indicates that migraine are often preceded by stress, hormonal imbalance, not eating often enough, changes in weather, difficulty sleeping, olfactory stimulants, neck pain, lights, alcohol, smoke, sleeping-in, heat, intense exercise, and sexual activity. With migraines, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, right? At Omagh Chiropractic, helping you to prevent headaches is as important to us as getting rid of the one you’ve got
How is Migraine Diagnosed?
The International Headache Society set a series of criteria for the diagnosis of headache in 1988. There is specific information the chiropractor will gather to confirm the diagnosis of migraine. Migraine diagnosis is based on a detailed history and physical exam. A physical exam for migraine diagnosis will focus mostly on the head and neck. Sometimes tests such as MRI or CT will be ordered to determine if there is a serious underlying cause for the headaches.
What Are The Options For Treating Migraine?
At Omagh Chiropractic, we don’t just treat your migraine, we treat you. You see, if your diet isn’t what it should be, you’re pretty stressed out (and don’t manage your stress well) and you’re not exercising, you aren’t giving your body what it needs to function at its best. We give lifestyle advice along with corrective Chiropractic care. Effectively treating migraine requires a well-rounded approach. The worst kind of migraine is the one that keeps coming back. If you’ve got chronic migraines, you need a solution that will work for you in the long term. The chiropractor at Omagh Chiropractic has found that chronic migraines tend to respond well to chiropractic maintenance/wellness care.
What Does the Research Say about Chiropractic and Migraines?
There are many high quality studies that point to the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic for the treatment of migraines/chronic migraines. Chiropractic is often shown to be as good if not better than standard medication treatments without all the nasty side effects.
Chiropractic Care for the Pregnant Migraine Sufferer
It’s so important for pregnant women to avoid medications that could be harmful to their baby. Chiropractic is a great alternative for moms-to-be who suffer from migraines
Migraine Headaches and Stress
Stress is known to cause migraines and make them worse. Managing your stress and treating the tightness, tension and pain that stress causes is so important for the management of stress related migraines. Chiropractic and manual therapy are excellent ways to manage your stress and manage your migraines.
1. Detsky ME, McDonald DR, Baerlocher MO, Tomlinson GA, McCrory DC, Booth CM. Does this patient with headache have a migraine or need neuroimaging? JAMA. 2006 Sep 13;296(10):1274-83. Review.
2. Mueller LL. Diagnosing and managing migraine headache. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007 Nov;107(10 Suppl 6):ES10-6.
3. Lipton RB, Stewart WF. The epidemiology of migraine. Eur Neurol. 1994;34 Suppl 2:6-11Available at: Kelman L.The triggers or precipitants of the acute migraine attack. Cephalalgia. 2007 May;27(5):394-402. Epub 2007 Mar 30 Available at: Hamel E. Serotonin and migraine: biology and clinical implications. Cephalalgia. 2007 Nov;27(11):1293-300.
4. [No authors listed]. Classification and diagnostic criteria for headache disorders, cranial neuralgias and facial pain. Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society. Cephalalgia. 1988;8 Suppl 7:1-96.
5. Narin SO, Pinar L, Erbas D, Oztürk V, Idiman F. The effects of exercise and exercise-related changes in blood nitric oxide level on migraine headache. Clin Rehabil. 2003 Sep;17(6):624-30.
6. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000 Feb;23(2):91-5.
7. Bronfort G, Assendelft WJ, Evans R, Haas M, Bouter L. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001 Sep;24(7):457-66.
TMJ/TMD Symptoms: Headaches
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problem. 90% of all headaches are Tension headaches and the TMJ headache is a tension type of headache. It is often described as a migraine headache.
There are a few TMJ-related causes for tension headaches. Constant contraction of muscle fibers within a muscle, create tension, pressure or a tight feeling in the face and head, and constant tight muscle fibers prevent or reduce blood flow to that area. The body sends more blood to the areas and this can result an increase in general blood pressure to the muscles and head, sometimes referred to as vascular headaches. Clenching and grinding the teeth, which are TMJ symptoms, produce pain from the muscles in the head, which is a headache. Furthermore, there are 2 muscles in the neck that are attached directly to the covering of the brain, which can cause a direct headache. Unfortunately, these headaches can be so frequent or severe that they are frequently misdiagnosed and treated as migraine headaches.
TMJ/TMD Symptoms: Facial Pain
When a patient’s bite is not properly aligned, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunctions and a number of related symptoms can arise. One of these symptoms is facial pain.
The jaw area of the face is a complex network of bones, joints, muscles, and nerves. When the jaw becomes unaligned, the surrounding bones, muscles, and nerves are also affected. This includes the muscles of the face, which experience strain or spasm because the muscles are working extra hard to compensate for the unstable bite.
TMJ Symptoms: Neck and Shoulder Pain
Having a ‘bad bite‘ (malocclusion) causes an imbalance in the jaw-to-skullrelationship, which in turn twists the jaw into a strained position that refers pain to the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Muscles work as a team. Seldom does a single muscle work without other muscles in the team joining in. The bones in the neck, especially the atlas and axis, are intimately involved with the muscles of chewing, biting, talking, breathing, and head posture. Sore, tight, contracted muscles of the jaw will tilt the head and shoulders causing compensation from neck, shoulder and back muscles.
Chiropractic understands that the bones, joints, muscles, and nerves in the face and neck have a complex relationship. Your Chiropractor along with your dentist can work together helping to correct the bite, relieving strain on the jaw and the surrounding muscles. Once the bite has been aligned, resulting pain in many areas of the body disappears.
TMJ Symptoms: Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears)
Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is another symptom of TMJ that is commonly misdiagnosed and often goes untreated or is treated ineffectively. In many cases ringing in the ears is one of the results of having a strained bite in which the jaw is not aligned. The jaw area of the face is a complex network of muscles and nerves, and when the bite is misaligned muscles and nerves throughout the head, including the ears, can be affected.
TMJ Symptoms: Clicking or Popping in Jaw Joints
Clicking, popping, or snapping in the jaw joint is the most common symptom of TMJ. There may or may not be pain in the jaw when the clicking or popping sound is heard. The clicking sound may even be so loud that others can hear it when you chew or speak. Usually the cause of the popping jaw is a displaced disc in the jaw. The jaw joints are ball and socket joints, just like the shoulder joint. When ball and socket joints are functioning properly, the ball and socket do not touch because of a thin disc of cartilage located between the ball and socket. This disc of cartilage is held in place and guided by a muscle.
If your bite is not right or trauma tears the tissues the jaw joint is pulled out of alignment, and the disc is typically pulled forward or torn. Now that the cartilage disc is not serving as a cushion between the ball and socket these bones are rubbing against each other and pressing on nerves, causing pain in the jaw and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint. The muscles holding the disc in place are now strained as well, causing additional pain in the jaw and face as well as in the head, neck, back and shoulders.
TMJ Symptoms: Jaw Pain
Because TMJ is a dysfunction of the jaw joint, jaw pain is a very common symptom. A “bad bite” in which your upper and lower teeth do not come together in proper alignment also disrupts the placement of the jaw and the surrounding muscles. This imbalance in the bite-jaw-muscle relationship is what causes the pain in the jaw. Pressure and forces on the teeth can cause bone to dissolve or extra boney projections to be built up.
How do Chiropractors help with TMJ problems?
Many patients have no idea that we are able to help with problems associated with the jaw! Like all joints in the body; the TMJ has a normal motion that is pain free. We work to correct the changes in jaw function and promote a healthy alignment of the jaw, head and neck. Most commonly patients complain of pain, numbness, ringing in the ears or clicking on opening and closing the mouth. Any or all of these could be a sign that the TMJ is involved.
Wouldn’t a Dentist work with TMJ problems more than a Chiropractor?
We often work in conjunction with dentists to promote a healthy alignment of the jaw. They specialize in the promotion of healthy alignment of the teeth and the use of intra-oral devices in some cases.
How does treatment for TMJ disorders differ with a Chiropractor?
We work to promote the proper function of the head, neck and jaw. Much of the work we use is in regards to changing poor posture in the upper neck. In a study by the American dental Association (2000) they found that TMJ issues responded very well to postural training.
When the posture is improved and the muscles involved in moving the jaw are balanced and the motion of the joint is improved; many problems associated with the jaw disappear!
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3. The Dental-chiropractic Cotreatment of Structural Disorders of the Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995 (Sep); 18 (7): 476–481
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