Chiropractic Care for Headaches
Headaches are a common problem experienced by people of all ages. It’s one of the top three conditions we treat at our office and the fifth most common reason people visit their primary care. It’s estimated 50% of people will experience a headache each year. While most are not serious, chronic and severe headaches can significantly impact your quality of life and be severely disabling. Although common, headaches are not “normal.” Like any pain, headaches are our body’s way of communicating something is not functioning correctly. Luckily, chiropractic care effectively reduces the frequency, intensity, and duration of many headaches.
There are many different types of headaches (actually 150) and many factors that can cause, contribute to, or modify headaches. These can range from stress, specific foods, tight muscles in your neck, and even changes in pressure with weather. Our office is especially good at treating headaches that have a cervicogenic component. If tissues in your neck are causing, contributing to, or triggering your headaches, we can make a significant positive impact. We have many patients who struggled with headaches for years only to find out a specific tight muscle or joint restrictions in their neck was the cause. In addition to traditional chiropractic care, we help individuals to identify what lifestyle factors may be contributing and can help you come up with a comprehensive treatment plan with diet modification and lifestyle counseling.
Like any condition, treating headaches starts with identifying the root cause of the problem. This is especially important with headaches because there are many different types and factors. Within the realm of cervicogenic (neck tissue-related) headaches, various tissues may or may not be responsible for your head pain. Unfortunately, many of our patients come to us having never had their spine or neck tissues evaluated. Instead, they were prescribed medication or even Botox injections to manage the symptoms of their headaches. Our doctors are specially trained to assess and treat the tissues that cause headaches addressing the source of the problem.
$25 New Patient Headache Health Screening
$25 for a complete chiropractic health screening including a consultation, exam, X-rays if necessary, a report of findings, and a plan of action.
How Our Headache Care Plan Works
At Brown Chiropractic, we treat people, not conditions. Our first priority is to get to know our patients, their lifestyles, and their goals for care. This allows us to partner with them and together create a care plan that is both individualized and specific to their needs.
Our comprehensive evaluation process not only identifies painful tissues but also the root cause of the condition. This allows us to take our patients through a step-by-step plan that gets them out of pain quickly and with lasting results.
Patients often find they not only get out of pain but feel better than they ever could have imagined. This allows them to perform at a higher level in all aspects of their life.
How We Treat Headaches in Yarmouth, ME
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
Identifying the root cause of the problem
The first step in addressing headaches at our chiropractic clinic is a comprehensive consultation and exam. During this process, we will take the time to understand the details of your headaches, their impact on your life, and your goals for care.
We will then perform a thorough evaluation that includes orthopedic and neurological testing to determine which tissues in your neck and head are causing or triggering your headaches.
Next, we’ll evaluate your spine to identify any restrictions or misalignments in the neck’s spinal segments that could contribute to your headaches.
Finally, we will use a functional movement screen to assess abnormal postures, muscle imbalances, and dysfunctional movements that could be causing the tissues of your head and neck to be tight and painful.
Specific Chiropractic Care
The best of myofascial release and adjusting
Once we have identified the root cause of your headaches, we will develop a specific chiropractic care plan tailored to your individual needs. Our first goal of care is to provide relief and facilitate healing by restoring motion and function to the restricted segments of your spine through adjustments. We will also use myofascial release and assisted stretching to provide complete relief and normalize spine mobility.
These techniques will help reduce muscle tension and optimize the biomechanics of your neck and head, allowing the tissues to heal and become less inflamed. In many cases, we can address a specific muscle that directly alleviates headache pain.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
For faster recovery and long-term resilience
To complement your adjustments and myofascial release, we will create a custom exercise protocol to address the muscle imbalances identified in your movement screen. This plan will be designed around your specific needs and goals for care and may include stretching protocols for the neck and shoulders and strengthening exercises for any weakness in the core or upper back.
Generally, we are working to reduce forward head posture and the associated muscle imbalances. We will also work with you to ensure you use proper posture and ergonomics at work or home to avoid exacerbating your headaches.
For pain management and faster healing
Reducing muscle tension in the neck and shoulders is often a priority for headaches. Electrical stimulation can be quite effective in reducing muscle tension and pain.
We also use cold laser protocols for headaches. Cold laser emits light waves into the tissues causing them to increase activity, duplicate, and heal while reducing inflammation and pain.
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Common Types of Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are often caused by stress, poor posture, or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, which can relieve tension headaches. Additionally, chiropractic care can help improve posture and reduce stress, preventing tension headaches from occurring in the first place. We also review ergonomics for work and home which can play a significant part in reducing tension headaches.
Migraines are a more severe type of headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. They are typically on one side of the head, and some people get auras (visual changes) before or during a migraine. Migraines can vary in length from hours to days. They can be quite severe, causing sufferers to seek out a dark, quiet room to lie down in. While the exact cause of migraines is not fully understood, it is believed to be related to changes in blood flow to the brain or even abnormal nerve activity in the brain.
Chiropractic care can help alleviate or reduce migraine symptoms by reducing tension in the neck and improving spinal alignment. Additionally, lifestyle advice and identifying triggers such as alcohol, chocolate, poor sleep patterns, etc., can be beneficial for treating migraines. We have helped many patients stop using medications or significantly reduce their need to take them. In some cases, chiropractic care at our office has eliminated migraines completely.
Cervicogenic headaches are headaches where pain is felt in the head, but the tissues causing the pain are actually in the neck. Many joints, muscles, and nerves arise from the neck with referral patterns into the head. These headaches often start in the back of the head and wrap around to the front of the head. These headaches are usually paired with pain or stiffness in the neck. These headaches respond especially well to chiropractic care as we can address the painful tissues in the neck with adjustments and myofascial techniques.
The occipital nerves, the nerves at the base of your skull, can become compressed and inflamed. When this occurs, it produces sharp, piercing, throbbing, shocking pain that shoots from the neck into the back of the head. The nerves become irritated for various reasons, such as tight muscles, injury (such as whiplash), degenerative changes in the neck, and more.
Chiropractic care reduces nerve compression alleviating symptoms and speeding up healing. This can be done in concert with other treatments, such as prescription medications or nerve blocks that reduce the inflammation of the nerve. Understand that medication may reduce inflammation but normalizing tissues in the neck is imperative to prevent future episodes.
Sinuses headaches occur when allergies or recent infection causes the sinuses to become blocked and unable to drain. This results in increased pressure felt as a deep ache behind the eyes, cheeks, and forehead.
Chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapies can reduce tension around the sinuses, helping them to drain again. This can reduce the pressure, providing relief while allowing the sinuses to return to normal function.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a chiropractor help with headaches?
Yes, chiropractic care can be an effective treatment for headaches. We use various techniques such as spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, stretches, and exercises to alleviate tension and normalize the function of the spine. These therapies can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and sometimes eliminate them altogether.
What causes headaches?
There are over 150 different types of headaches. The most common headaches are caused by or exacerbated by tension in the neck and shoulders, spinal malalignment, poor posture, stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, medication side effects, illness, and certain medical conditions. Identifying the type and cause of a headache is the most critical step in treatment.
How can I prevent headaches?
There are several ways to prevent headaches, including maintaining good posture, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, managing stress, and avoiding triggers such as certain foods or activities that may cause headaches. Our chiropractors can also provide exercises and stretches that can help prevent headaches.
What types of headaches can chiropractic care help with?
Chiropractic care can be helpful for several types of headaches, including tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches (headaches caused by neck issues), and migraines. Your chiropractor can work with you to determine the underlying cause of your headaches and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
How long does it take for chiropractic care to help with headaches?
The length of time it takes for chiropractic care to help with headaches can vary depending on the severity and frequency of your headaches, as well as your overall health and wellness. Some patients may experience significant improvement after just a few visits, while others may require several weeks or months of treatment. After an evaluation, your chiropractor can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your specific situation.
Is chiropractic care safe for headaches?
Yes, chiropractic care is generally safe for headaches when performed by a licensed and experienced chiropractor. However, as with any medical treatment, some risks are associated with chiropractic care, such as soreness, stiffness, and in rare cases, more serious complications. Your chiropractor can discuss these risks with you and answer any questions.
Do I need a referral from my doctor to see a chiropractor for headaches?
In most cases, you do not need a referral from your doctor to see a chiropractor for headaches. Chiropractors are licensed healthcare professionals and can evaluate and treat patients independently. However, informing your primary care physician or other healthcare providers about any complementary therapies you are considering is always a good idea.
Can I receive chiropractic care if I am pregnant and experiencing headaches?
Yes, chiropractic care is safe and effective for pregnant women experiencing headaches. In fact, many women can no longer take their headache medication while pregnant, and chiropractic can help manage those headaches naturally.
How often do I need to see a chiropractor for headaches?
The frequency of chiropractic visits for headaches can vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of your condition. Initially, you may need to see your chiropractor more frequently, such as once or twice a week. As your symptoms improve, you may be able to space out your visits to every two weeks or once a month. Your chiropractor can help determine the optimal treatment schedule for your specific situation.
Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help with my headaches in addition to chiropractic care?
Yes, several lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches, such as practicing good posture, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and avoiding triggers such as certain foods or activities.
What is a natural way to relieve tension headaches?
There are many natural ways to relieve tension headaches, including practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Regular exercise, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy diet can also help prevent tension headaches.
Is a massage or chiropractic better for headaches?
Both massage and chiropractic care can help treat headaches, but the best option depends on the type of headache you’re experiencing and its underlying cause. A chiropractor can help diagnose the cause of your headaches and recommend the most appropriate treatment.
Do medical doctors recommend chiropractors for headaches?
We get referrals of headache patients from PCPs in our area regularly.
Are chiropractors covered by insurance for headaches?
Many insurance plans cover chiropractic care, including treatment for headaches. However, the specific coverage and limits may vary depending on your individual plan. We’re happy to look up your insurance benefits to determine your chiropractic coverage.