Headache Clinic Chicago Provides Natural Headache Pain Relief
Headaches are a huge problem, as sufferers can testify. However, in many cases, headaches are relatively easy to treat. Just imagine, all that pain you have been experiencing, gone. In all reality, most headaches come down to one common denominator that has a simple solution. However, most people are not aware of what truly causes 95% of headaches so this problem continues to grow at epidemic proportions, with between 20% – 30% of adults in the United States experiencing a headache more than once a month. Even worse, a small percentage of the population, about 3% of people, suffer from chronic tension headaches more than 180 days a year, with many waking up to pain every single day. That’s no way to live! Read on, we will reveal how to treat the root cause of most headaches in order to permanently eliminate them from your life.
The Typical, Yet Not So Effective Protocol For Treating Headaches
All in all, about 12 million people in the United States visit the doctor for headache relief every single year. In the greater majority of cases, western doctors will treat the symptoms of the problem, the pain, with over-the-counter or prescription pain relieving medication. While pain medication dulls the pain temporarily, this doesn’t target the true cause of headaches.
Using medications to treat headaches commonly leads to a secondary condition – Medication Overuse Headache (MOH). MOH refers to headaches that continue despite continuous medication administration. When pain relievers lose their original punch, doctors may perform trigger point injections that can ease pain, but again, don’t solve the underlying problem at its roots. After this treatment option, Botox injections might be administered in order to disable the function of nervous tissue, effectively erasing the sensation of pain. This pain is simply the body’s way of screaming that something is wrong. By eliminating the sensation of pain, the original cause of the problem still exists, yet it is being ignored.
Treating Headaches At Their Root
While not a secret, many people who suffer from headaches are not aware that lifestyle choices and the tension associated with them, are directly responsible for their pain. Oftentimes, a headache doesn’t actually originate from the head, but rather, from the vertebrae, tendons, and muscles in the back and neck. The good news is, headaches that stem from the the muscles or vertebrae can be corrected with help from a chiropractor and acupuncturist along with physical therapy, clinical massage therapy, and by making lifestyle changes.
What Causes Headaches?
Tight muscles and tendons in the back, neck, and jaw are the common denominator in 95% of headaches. These headaches can be easily remedied by massage, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and acupuncture. However, this doesn’t mean that all headaches stem from this origin, as there are a wide range of factors that contribute to headaches. Some other reasons for headaches include sinus problems, disc pathology, incorrect posture, vascular issues, inflammation, neurotransmitter dysfunction, a hormonal imbalance, and even tumors. This is why it is important to see a chiropractor to pinpoint the underlying cause of headaches before making assumptions.
Before anything else, at Ravenswood Chiropractic, we determine the reason for headaches and develop treatment options for you that target the problem directly.
In most cases we see at our office, neck and back tension are the direct cause of headaches. Since this is easily treatable through massage, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, and by following proper posture patterns, we can focus on a solution to the problem from day one. Our goal is to offer a comprehensive protocol that treats headaches directly at their source and leave our clients pain free, effectively improving their life overall.
The 4 Types Of Headaches
Cervicogenic and Myogenic Headaches
Myogenic (origin in the muscle) Cervicogenic (origin in the neck) Headaches – Most headaches stem from physiological problems within the muscles and ligaments connected to the upper three cervical vertebrae (the neck). For the most part, the overall increase of headaches in our modern age are a direct result of working long hours in less than ideal positions. In many cases, people who work at a desk are either on their computer or on their cell phone, resulting in a condition known as text neck.
Approximately 15- 20% of headaches are myogenic cervicogenic in nature, and could be easily corrected by proper posture. Overall, many find relief from these types of headaches through spinal manipulation and by performing therapeutic exercises we provide.
Tension Headaches – Tension headaches also stem from poor posture, maintaining an improper position, clenching the jaw, stress, anxiety, and depression. People who spend the greater majority of the day on the computer or on their cell phone often end up with chronic tension headaches. If you are required to sit at the computer for long periods of time we recommend you make changes to your workstation, ideally by turning it into a standing workplace, as this will allow you to maintain the proper posture throughout the day. At Ravenswood Chiropractic we find that similar to evidence and clinical research results, tension headaches respond well to physical therapy that focuses on retraining proper posture patterns along with chiropractic treatment, and massage.
Migraine Headaches – Migraines are the result of a disorder within the central nervous system, specifically the nerves and blood vessels. Migraine headaches can be triggered by a variety of sources and are one of the most debilitating conditions, as anyone who has experienced one can reveal. The good news is that there are plenty of studies such as this case study, that point to acupuncture in combination with chiropractic adjustments for migraine relief.
Cluster Headaches – While the cause is not completely understood, cluster headaches can be debilitating to those who suffer from them. There is not a lot of research currently available but there are some studies such as this one that show that acupuncture can offer relief for individuals who are dealing with cluster headaches.
Chiropractic for Headache Pain Relief
Spinal manipulation performed by a chiropractor can quickly bring the vertebrae and joints into proper alignment. By targeting tight muscles and tendons, while adjusting the spinal column, chiropractors can restore range of motion. Since spinal misalignment, muscle tension, and dysfunctional movement patterns are usually the result of years of poor posture patterns or an accident/trauma, it must be corrected initially with chiropractic adjustments in order to experience long-term relief. Patients who utilize chiropractic adjustments in addition to changing their debilitating posture patterns stand to make considerable improvement and should eventually become headache free, as we are focusing on the root of the cause.
Treating Headaches With Physical Therapy
Treating headaches with physical therapy has been shown to offer long-term relief for patients with neck, back, and jaw structural problems that result in a headache. These structural issues are often the result of an injury, improper movement patterns, and posture issues. In many cases, individuals who suffer from tension induced headaches often lack normal range of motion in their neck. Can you move your head in all directions without pain? If not, this is often a significant contributing factor to tension induced headaches. Headaches like this are often the result of maintaining an undesirable position such as sitting in front of the computer for a long period of time.
In addition to reducing time spent in a position that causes posture problems, physical therapy is a great way to regain full range of motion and in turn, reduce headaches that stem from this origin. At Ravenswood Chiropractic Center, we complete a detailed musculoskeletal exam, assess the range of motion in the neck, overall joint mobility, pinpoint tight muscles, and address trigger points. In addition, we teach exercises that increase the strength of the neck and back muscles, while focusing on ways to regain proper posture and movement patterns. Our goal is to give our patients their life back by finding a solution to their tension induced headaches and leaving them pain free permanently.
Massage – Release The Tension
Since most headaches of a myogenic | cervicogenic or tension origin stem from tight muscles and tendons, massage is an effective adjunct therapy to chiropractic or acupuncture care. In fact, consistent massage sessions have been shown to be beneficial in treating most types of headaches. One prominent study reported that 8 out of 10 participants had at least a 50% reduction in headache pain after massage. Just based on that study alone, this non-invasive treatment option is a must in addition to spinal manipulation and physical therapy.
Ideally, receive regular massages in order to keep the muscles of the neck and back relaxed, as this could make headaches a thing of the past. In all reality, finding relief from the majority of headaches is really this simple. Since massage reduces pain overall, decreases tension, reduces medication usage, and increases range of motion, it plays a complementary role in headache relief.
Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture For Headaches
Acupuncture is another way to relax the muscles of the neck and back by relieving the tension and stress, the direct cause of most headaches. Using Chinese medicine to treat headaches is all about enabling a balance between yin and yang. When combined with other treatment options like massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture can target imbalances responsible for headaches.
Chronic headaches and migraines are both very common conditions which cause severe discomfort and disruption to the sufferer’s daily life. They are also among the most common problems seen in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic.
TCM is a very effective treatment for headaches. One reason for this is that it recognizes that they are usually only a symptom of an underlying issue. The root cause of headaches is not always in the head. Problems in other parts of the body can also result in headaches. They should therefore be diagnosed and treated in accordance with each patient’s individual symptoms and constitution.
From a TCM point of view, there are many different reasons why you may experience headaches. These can be differentiated by the area of the head affected, the intensity of the headache and any accompanying symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or muscular tension.
Yin and Yang
One of the fundamental ideas of TCM is the theory of yin and yang. These are the complementary yet opposing forces of nature which are also present within the human body. Good health relies on a delicate balancing act between yin and yang. If one or the other becomes excessive or deficient, disease will soon occur.
Yang energy is light and has a tendency to rise. TCM regards that all the body’s yang energy converges toward the head. This is circulated in the yang meridians of the arms and legs which all pass through the head. This means that the head is closely connected with the rest of the body, and all of the organs are responsible for nourishing it.
In TCM, the brain is known as the “sea of marrow”. It is formed by kidney essence and nourished by nutrients from food.
Internal and External Factors
As well as being connected with the internal organs through the meridians, the head also has “orifices” which communicate directly with the outside world (the eyes, ears, nose and mouth).
Both internal and external factors can restrict the flow of the meridians. Internal factors could be an imbalance between yin and yang, deficiency or stagnation of qi (energy) or blood, or a disharmony in a particular organ or meridian.
External factors include pathogenic, climatic influences such as excess cold, heat, wind or dampness. These can enter the body preventing nutrients from being supplied to the head or blocking the orifices.
Diagnosing Headaches with TCM
There are many triggers and causes of headaches, and great variation in frequency and severity between individuals. Therefore it may sometimes be a challenge to diagnose headaches correctly. To find the underlying imbalance and treat effectively, information about the patient’s constitution is key.
The TCM practitioner looks at the specific symptoms of the headache to confirm where the disharmony lies. One common method of diagnosis for fixed location headaches such as migraines, is that the area of the headache often reflects the imbalanced meridian.
Sinus headaches and frontal headaches are usually related to the Stomach and Large Intestine meridians which pass around the nose and under the eyes. These are the organs in charge of mucus production and controlling fluids. This type of headache may be accompanied by nasal congestion or a feeling of fullness or pressure behind the eyes.
Tension headaches affect the temporal area at the sides of the head and/or the occipital area at the back of the head. These are often triggered by stress and are related to the Gallbladder or Triple Warmer meridians. This type of headache may be accompanied by pain and muscular tension around the neck and shoulders, and relaxing these muscles can also help to relieve the headache. Acupuncture can be used to release muscular tension, relieve stress and calm the mind.
High Blood Pressure
Headaches can also be a symptom of high blood pressure (hypertension). This type of headache will usually affect the top of the head and is caused by excessive rising yang. The Urinary Bladder and Governing Vessel meridians pass over the top of the head and are commonly used to calm the hyperactive yang.
Menstruation and Pregnancy
For women, hormonal changes often contribute to headache symptoms. Headaches can be triggered by menstruation, or during pregnancy. The locations and durations of this type of headache can vary.
The body’s Conception Vessel and Penetrating Vessel are responsible for menstruation. They are filled with abundant qi and blood. When a woman of child bearing age is not pregnant, the excess qi and blood will empty into the uterus and produce regular menses. During pregnancy, blood flow down to the uterus is increased to nourish the fetus.
Both of these situations mean that the rest of the body can easily fall into blood deficiency or yin deficiency. This allows the head to become undernourished. Because yin has become deficient, it is unable to counterbalance yang. Since yang is now in relative excess, it rises upwards, uncontrolled. This disturbs the head, resulting in headaches.
This type of headache is treated by calming the Liver and subduing yang. Points that nourish and replenish blood, and dispel wind are also selected.
Migraines are a kind of recurring, chronic headache which may be accompanied by visual disturbance, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. A migraine can be debilitating, causing the sufferer to have no choice but to lie down in a darkened room and wait for it to pass.
According to TCM, migraines are usually due to an imbalance in the Liver meridian. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi throughout the whole body, including the head. If the Liver is not functioning well, qi can become stagnant and unable to flow freely, causing migraine symptoms.
Treatment is focused on nourishing the Liver and restoring the free flow of qi.
So, when diagnosing and treating headaches using TCM, it is important to take many different factors into account. Your TCM practitioner will also look at your overall health, medical history, diet and lifestyle to identify any contributing factors. They will then be able to formulate the most effective treatment plan for your personal needs.
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How To Get Rid Of Headaches
Scientific studies have shown that the best way to get rid of headaches is through massage, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and acupuncture. Ideally, focus on ways to reduce tension throughout the neck, back, and jaw, while retaining proper posture patterns during work and play in order to experience permanent relief from headaches. To see how natural headache treatments may help you, schedule an appointment with one of our expert team members call 773.878.7330 TODAY or request an appointment online.
References and Additional Reading
Acupuncture in cluster headache: four cases and review of the literature. – PubMed – NCBI, PubMed.gov, 14 May 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24867865. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Brennan, MK, and Jolie Haun. Massage Brings Relief to People Suffering from Headaches, Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor, July 2013, www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14784. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
FCER Duke Evidence Report Exec Summary, The Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, 2006, www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Behavioral_and_Physical_Treatments_for_Headache.html. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Headaches and Chiropractic, American Chiropractic Association, https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Headaches-and-Chiropractic. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Hydration Guide: How Much Water Should We Drink?, Ravenswood Chiropractic and Wellness Center, https://www.rennwellness.com/nutrition/quenching-your-thirst-your-guide-to-hydration-that-may-surprise-you.html. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
How to Set Up An Ergonomic Workstation | Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago , Ravenswood Chiropractic and Wellness Center, https://www.rennwellness.com/chiropractic/how-to-set-up-an-ergonomic-workstation.html. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Neighmond, Patti. For Headaches, A Lifestyle Change May Be Better Than A Doctor Visit, npr WBEZ, 11 May 2015, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/05/11/404693609/for-headache-pain-a-lifestyle-change-may-be-better-than-a-doctor-visit. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Albert Moraska, PhD and Clint Chandler, BS. Changes in Psychological Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study, Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy 2009; 17(2): 86–94.
Younes Jahangiri Noudeh, MD, Nasibeh Vatankhah, MD, and Hamid R. Baradaran, MD, PhD. Reduction of Current Migraine Headache Pain Following Neck Massage and Spinal Manipulation, International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. 2012; 5(1): 5–13. Published online March 31, 2012.
Ohlsen, Bahia A. Combination of acupuncture and spinal manipulative therapy: management of a 32-year-old patient with chronic tension-type headache and migraine, 11 Sept. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437348/. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Rathier, Lucy. Effects of Exercise on Headaches and Migraines | American Migraine Foundation, American Migraine Foundation, 1 Nov. 2015, https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/effects-of-exercise-on-headaches-and-migraines/. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
Nilsson N. The prevalence of cervicogenic headache in a random population sample of 20-59 year olds. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 Sep 1; 20(17):1884-8.