When something is annoying, we often say ‘wow, what a headache!’ But for many Americans, headaches and migraines are more than just an inconvenience. Treating headaches and migraines is essential to function at capacity. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and a good time to support those who suffer. At Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic, Dr. Henderson regularly works to address, and prevent, headache or migraine pain.
Health Org Views on Headaches and Migraines
The American Migraine Foundation explains that migraines impact 1 billion people worldwide. Their numbers show 1 in 5 women, 1 in 16 men, and 1 in 11 children experience them on a regular basis. Other sources report that 3.3 million Americans suffer from chronic migraine, or at least 8 migraine days each month or 15+ days of migraines and headaches combined.
The WHO acknowledges that recurrent headaches and headache disorders “are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life, and financial cost…Headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.”
Unfortunately, continues the WHO, “many of those troubled by headache do not receive effective care. For example, in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, only half of those identified with migraine had seen a doctor for headache-related reasons in the previous 12 months, and only two-thirds had been correctly diagnosed. Most were solely reliant on over-the-counter medications.”
While medication provides much needed relief, there are sometimes ways to treat headaches before they start. Monitoring triggers like caffeine intake, weather changes, stress, and erratic sleep can nip some headaches in the bud. In many cases, chiropractic treatment can also help.
Medical News Today explains that “While the symptoms of migraine headaches vary, more than 75% of people with the condition experience associated neck pain. Many of them also report muscle tension, neck stiffness, and problems with jaw function.”
And they admit that “doctors typically prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and physical therapy to treat these associated symptoms. However, these treatments do not fully address the problems underlying the symptoms. A chiropractor’s expertise includes treating these symptoms and often relieves the underlying problems.”
Treating Headaches and Migraines through Chiropractic Care
When treating migraines and headaches, chiropractors typically “perform spinal adjustments or manipulation to reduce stress and improve spinal function. Treatment also includes soft tissue therapies, which may involve: massage, which includes kneading of joints and muscles, myofascial release massage aimed at the membranes that connect and support muscles, [and] trigger point therapies that target tense areas within muscles.”
This June’s National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is a way to take stock. The Mayo Clinic offers a checklist of potential triggers including alcohol, processed meats containing nitrates, changes in sleep, skipped meals, poor posture, dehydration, dental problems or teeth clenching, and stress.
Beyond hands-on care, chiropractors work with you to find the root of your headache. Adjustments help relieve pain and stiffness but aren’t the problem itself. A skilled doctor will ask about medical history, medications you may take, and other possible factors. Dr. Henderson’s consultation mindset is simple. “During the initial chiropractic consultation, you will have a chance to tell me all about your health conditions or concerns. I want to know how it started, what it feels like, what you’ve done about it so far, and what may have worked before—even if it was just temporarily.”
What to Expect at the Chiropractic Office
For those who are chronically mis-diagnosed on their headache journey, never fear. Dr. Henderson won’t poke and prod endlessly. “If after hearing about your health condition it seems that your health issues may be helped by chiropractic, I will perform a chiropractic examination. There have been times where it has been very clear to me following the consultation that my office is simply not the best place for the patient. I don’t accept patients for care that I don’t believe I can help.”
And she may be able to suggest lifestyle changes to avoid tipping the scales into a full-blown headache. These might include improving both sitting and standing posture, avoiding heavy exercise in favor of low-impact aerobics or walking, and making some dietary or vitamin changes. Her treatments are medication-free and tailored to your specific needs, goals, and lifestyle.
Headaches are usually a red flag. They alert us to dehydration, excess stress, poor sleep, too much or too little caffeine, and things below the surface. But you don’t have to live with their constant pain. If you suffer without an obvious cause, consider calling Dr. Henderson’s team for a consultation. You can book an exam online or by calling 360.254.0400 today.