Natural Solutions for Headaches! Part 1

In my chiropractic and acupuncture in Golden, CO, I see a lot of patients complaining of headaches. There are many different reasons that headaches occur in the body. I always appreciate when patients come in with x-rays of the neck, and/or MRI’s of the neck and brain. These studies help to rule out major problems in those areas. However the most common outcome is that the patient is told that the study is normal and they will just have to take medications for the pain. Not true! There are many natural treatments that can help or eliminate headaches, and that includes tension or stress headaches, neck headaches as well as migraine and sinus headaches. Today I would give you some insight into how chiropractic and acupuncture can help, and then some tips as well for self help.

Chiropractic and Headaches

Headaches can certainly be a “pain” for those who suffer from them. Whether tension, migraine or sinus headaches I have seen many patients over the years that have these frequent headaches, either daily or weekly, and it certainly interferes with quality of life.

The good news is that chiropractic treatment for headaches can be very effective. Mis-alignments in the spine can restrict the motion of the neck, and can cause nerve irritation to the nerves that provide the pain sensation to the head, neck and face. Typically the mis-alignments will be in the upper part of the neck right under the skull, and many patients will have pain and tenderness in those areas. Chiropractic treatment helps to realign the spine, and can reduce muscle tightness and nerve irritation. It can be much more effective than taking medications, since long term use of medications can interfere with the body’s natural pain control mechanism. This can result in a “rebound” headache and continues the cycle of pain.

Acupuncture and Headaches

Acupuncture is another very effective treatment for headaches. Acupuncture allows endorphins (pain killing hormones, like opiates) to be released. The needling also can release spasms or tightness in the muscles in the neck and at the base of the skull.

The other benefit of acupuncture is that it treats your internal energies. Balancing your meridians or channels of energy is important in Chinese Medicine. For example, the Liver allows your Chi, or energy, to flow freely through the body, and when this energy is obstructed or restricted then symptoms such as headaches can occur.  I have had very good results with helping patients with migraine headaches with a combination of acupuncture and chiropractic, and they are very grateful to be off their headache medications!  This treatment can also help with those nasty sinus headaches, as acupuncture can help drain and clear the sinuses.

Here are some tips you can use at home for headache care:

  • Use and ice pack over the back of your neck and base of your skull if it is tight or sore
  • An ice pack or cooling mask can be used over your eyes or forehead for pain in those areas as well
  • Acupressure can help; locate the point in the web between your thumb and first finger, and then press and hold. This activates and acupuncture point that is used to treat headaches. You can also rub the points in your forehead about an inch above the center of your eyebrow, these may be tender but this can help relieve the tension in these points and entire forehead.

Look for Part 2 coming up, with more about headaches from allergies, sinuses and food related headaches…………..

Strategies for Natural Pain Relief

Chiropractic and acupuncture can offer a great way to manage pain naturally. They are alternatives to using drugs to manage pain, and are much healthier for the body.

Millions of Americans depend on over the counter and prescription drugs to manage pain. Here are some reasons why this may not be such a good idea:

  • Painkillers are NSAIDS (non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and Motrin) and COX-2 Inhibitors (prescription drugs such as Vioxx and Celebrex). These drugs are linked to heart attacks and strokes.
  • The FDA has asked manufacturers of drugs containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to change the labeling to limit the dosage and add a liver toxicity warning.
  • Vioxx is a painkiller that was pulled off the market in 2004 after 60,000 people died from its increased heart risks.
  • The painkiller NSAIDS can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding in the stomach. Many people find they can’t take these drugs for this reason.

Chiropractic care, by working on aligning the spine, will help reduce pain by restoring the body to better function, and muscles are less tight and work with less strain. Acupuncture helps with pain as well, as it releases endorphins, which are painkilling hormones, and are like opiates that go into the brain. Have you ever had runner’s high? That’s the endorphins kicking in.

Tips for Natural Pain Relief:

  • Chiropractic and acupuncture are an effective drug free alternative to use for back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain, sports injuries, and pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  • Hidden or known allergies to food, the environment or even pets can cause an immune reaction and this in turn can be a cause of acute or chronic pain. Dr. Foley specializes in using NAET Allergy Elimination techniques to detect and eliminate these allergies, and any symptoms, such as pain, that they may cause.

There are some very effective supplements that can be used:

  • For pain relief White Willow bark, is a natural form of salicylic acid (which is used in synthetic form in aspirin).
  • For inflammation try Omega -3 fish oils. I always recommend using enteric coated fish oils (which open in the small intestine) so there is no fishy aftertaste.
  • For joint pain and arthritis you can combine the above with Glucosamine Sulfate (no Chondroitin needed). Glucosamine needs to be in a sulfate form to be best absorbed.
  • Always make sure you buy good quality supplements with superior ingredients. This assures you that they nutrients will be absorbed and utilized by your body.
  • A diet low in grains and sugars will help to reduce inflammation in the body. Grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rice, and any processed sugars can also cause joint pain.

If you have any questions or would like a Free Consulation please call Dr. Erin Foley at 303-271-1701.