By DR SUSAN DONALD, DC
A significant health problem in today’s society is headaches. Not only are they painful and debilitating to the people who have them, they cause lost productivity, which can cost in the millions of dollars.
Headaches are one of the most common reasons that people seek treatment form a health practitioner. If you suffer from headaches you should know that there is a treatment that is drug free, non-invasive and looks to prevent future headaches. That treatment is chiropractic care.
All headaches are classified as either primary or secondary in nature. Primary headaches make up approximately 95 percent of all headaches. These include the muscle tension, migraine and cluster headache. Secondary headache are those that are a symptom of a medical problem such as a tumour sinus infection or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The likelihood of you having one of these conditions is remote. Secondary headaches account for only five percent of all headaches. But if you ever have a headache that strikes suddenly, is accompanied by numbness, confusion, slurred speech, fever or any other unusual symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
The most common headache is the muscle tension or muscle contraction headache, accounting for 85 percent of all primary headaches. The pain of this type of headache is a dull, constant pain at the back of the head and may include neck and shoulder stiffness. It may last a few hours to a full day. Pain may follow a day of work or any period of stress. These headaches are caused by tension and spasm of muscle along with misalignments of spinal vertebrae.
Because of the origin of the muscle tension headache conservative treatment like chiropractic care is of great benefit. Relaxation techniques, improved posture, adaptation to work habits, and correction of spinal misalignments can provide relief of pain
The second most common type of headache is the infamous migraine suffered by six percent of those with primary headaches. Women report more migraines than men, with description of pain ranging from mild to severe to disabling. There are specific symptoms that distinguish migraine from other headaches and you may find that your symptoms change with each headache.
It is also possible for some symptoms to appear hours before the head pain starts. In most migraines, the pain is felt only on one side of the head though the pain may alternate sides with each headache.
The possible triggers of migraine are numerous to finding yours may require some trial and error.
Some possible triggers include bright or flashing lights, pollution, chocolate, caffeine, cheese, nuts, food additives and spinal misalignments that compress spinal nerves and/or blood vessels.
The least common type of primary headaches is the cluster headache, which affects more men than women. The cluster is so named because if appears in a series of very painful headaches. The series consist of a least one headache per day, at the same time every day for a period of weeks or months. Each headache generally lasts from 20 minutes to two hours. The pain is a steady searing pin usually centered behind one eye, temple, or cheek. Nearly all sufferers are heavy smokers and drinker.
Significant input from your doctor of chiropractor can help you find the cause of your headache. He or she is interested in helping your relieve the pain of your headaches without the use of pain relievers or invasive methods. Your chiropractic care will include spinal adjustment to improve spinal alignment, reduce nerve and/or blood vessel irritation, and ease muscle tension. Your chiropractor may also recommend exercise, improved sleep patterns and postures, dietary changes and relaxation techniques to prevent future headaches and improve our overall health.
• Dr Susan Donald can be reached at Life Chiropractic Centre, 9B Village Road. Call 393-2774.