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…………..