You may associate chiropractic care with treatment for back pain or neck pain. But chiropractors can actually provide relief from a much wider variety of complaints, including leg pain, foot pain — even headaches. In fact, a Duke University study showed that headaches linked to neck problems can be relieved almost immediately by spinal manipulation — and without the potential side effects of medication. Here’s what you need to know if you’re wondering about chiropractic treatment for headaches:
- What Kinds of Headaches Are There?
Headaches have many causes, but the two most common kinds are migraine headaches and tension headaches. Migraines are caused by constriction and then dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, which causes a rise in pressure. This is the kind of headache most associated with nausea and light sensitivity, and the people who get them can often feel them coming on. Tension headaches, on the other hand, normally gradually increase in intensity and feel like a dull aching or a tightness on one or both sides of the head. They are often caused by stress or musculoskeletal concerns such as bad posture.
- Why Does Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches Work?
In the case of tension headaches, the most common cause is one or more subluxations (misalignments between joints) in the neck and upper back — the cervical spine. This causes spasms in a tiny muscle called the rectus capitis posterior minor. This muscle is attached by a tendon to the dura mater, a very sensitive tissue covering the brain. By manipulating the cervical spine, especially the top two vertebrae, a chiropractor can often relieve the pain and make further headaches less likely.
- How Long Should I Wait to See a Chiropractor?
If your headaches are only occasional, you may be able to just grit your teeth, take an over-the-counter pain reliever and carry on. But if you have chronic headaches or headaches that last for days at a time, then a consultation with a chiropractor may be a good step.
Have you ever gone to the chiropractor to get treatment for headaches? Can you share any advice on preventing tension headaches? Join the discussion in the comments.