Headaches and Migraines: A Westlake, OH Doctors Solution
Headaches and Migraines are one of the most common conditions we see at Paramount Chiropractic in Westlake, OH. Headaches can oftentimes be just an annoyance or hinderance to your day. But other times can be truly debilitating, especially when they are of the migraine variety. Whether you have headaches or migraines it is very important that you have them evaluated by a chiropractor.
You may ask yourself the question of “why am I getting headaches now or how did these even start? I haven’t done anything different lately.” But these head pains or symptoms could be signs of underlying issues in your body and should not just be ignored. We’re programmed that headaches are just “normal” or “they will just go away on their own”. A lot of times we’ll just resort to a quick fix and take some sort of over the counter medication to minimize the symptoms. Unfortunately, these quick fixes never actually fix the problem and allow you to keep functioning as the underlying problem becomes worse and worse. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “is my body lacking the right amount of medication?” I think we all know the answer to that but most times we just choose the “easy fix”.
So why should you go to the chiropractor for natural relief of your headaches and migraines? Chiropractic is founded on the principles of restoring function to the body through a properly functioning spine and nervous system. Chiropractors are specifically trained to detect and correct vertebral subluxations that cause dysfunction throughout your spine and nervous system. Subluxations can go undetected for years without you even knowing. Eventually it can be the scenario of the “straw breaking the camel’s back” that your body can no longer adapt to the stressors being put on it and that’s when the symptoms or pain arises. Subluxations, especially in your neck or cervical spine, can lead to headaches and migraines.
In our office we always start with the initial consultation to collect all the pertinent information from the patients’ health history. Next, we move into the digital posture and movement assessment, followed by a spinal exam and any necessary X-rays.
What we do in our office to eliminate headaches and migraines
X-Rays: Why we take them to evaluate your headache or migraine condition
To see is to know and not to see is to guess. And we won’t guess with your health! We have a state of the art digital X-ray machine right at our Paramount Chiropractic facility. The X-rays give us the insight into your spine and allows us to see the intricate anatomy of the spine. We also do a unique motion study analysis that most other offices do not do. This type of X-ray analysis allows us to detect where the misaligned or subluxated joints in your spine might be. If we detect subluxations in your spine, especially in the upper cervical spine, it is likely that they could be causing your headaches or migraines.
We can also see the different curvatures in your spine that are crucial for overall health, movement, and function. Knowing the alignment and being able to specifically measure the curves against normal values we can determine how to correct your problem. Specifically, the cervical lordosis, called “the arc of life”, is vitally important to our health and function. With the overuse of computers, phones and tablets our cervical lordosis can be severely damaged or reduced putting stress and pressure on the joints and nerves in your neck and even on your brain stem.
Digital Posture Assessment:
Posture is the window into the spine and gives us a baseline of information on how your spine and overall health may be affected through poor postural patterns and imbalances. Posture can affect everything from spinal joints, muscles and nerves to blood vessels and organ function. If we see postural abnormalities in your assessment it is usually a great indicator that we need to dive deeper and perform an X-ray analysis as well.
Our digital posture assessment tool can detect any abnormalities within seconds and give you an idea of how your posture is affecting your health and contributing to your headache condition. Dr. Greg will go over your posture assessment right at that time.
How specific chiropractic adjustments help alleviate headaches
Once it is determined that we can help your headaches and migraines through our examination process Dr. Greg will deliver a specific chiropractic adjustment to your spine to reduce and correct the subluxation process. This is the most important thing that will be done in the office. Chiropractors are the only doctors specifically trained for the detection and correction of spinal subluxation. The adjustment is also helping to improve the motion and alignment of your spine as well as improve the neurological connection between the brain and the body. Once the subluxation is reduced or removed the brain then stops sending those pain signals to the body. There are different ways chiropractors can adjust the spine including hands on/manual adjusting or instrument adjusting. Dr Greg will determine the best method for you and take into account the patients’ tolerance of either method or what they prefer.
Headache Specific Rehab:
Rehabilitation of the spine is a crucial part of the healing and corrective process for people who suffer from headaches and migraines. As was mentioned earlier it is vitally important to restore the cervical curve or lordosis in your neck. This helps to alleviate pressure in the upper cervical spine and brain stem area as well help restore normal alignment to promote a more natural fluid motion in your neck. However, we will not ignore other areas of the spine and pelvis because the spine is a working unit and compensations and imbalances can happen at multiple levels and areas of the body. There are different phases and procedures through the rehab process which include wobble disc exercises, traction, stretching and active strengthening exercises including vibration plate therapy. You will be guided through the process every step of the way.
Wobble disc exercises:
Consist of certain movements to help get your spine, especially the lumbar and pelvic regions, moving more freely and fluidly. Even though these targeted areas are more for the lower and mid back, your spine is a working unit. If the areas below your neck aren’t moving and functioning well it can affect your neck and headaches as well.
Traction is a crucial component of rehab for the elimination of your Headache condition, especially when the loss of the cervical lordosis (normal neck curve) is the culprit. We use the Pettibon wall traction system that has been scientifically proven to help with neck dysfunction and curve restoration. This is a painless procedure where you control the amount of force being put into the spine. Traction done properly can help create a distraction force through the joints of the neck taking pressure of the intervertebral discs, joints and surrounding soft tissue.
Stretching and Strengthening exercises are a must when it comes to headache relief as well as to keep them from returning. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises will be given, from our database of over 1000 exercises, tailored to each patient’s condition. Most of these can be done at home but some will be done in the office as well. When the soft tissue that supports our spine is tight, weak and generally deconditioned, the joints cannot and will not function properly.
Vibration Plate therapy is a newer technology that can help speed up the recovery process to eliminate your headache condition. There are specific exercises, movements or head weighting used to help rehabilitate your spine and restore proper postural patterns in the body. VibePlate training works on up to 90% of your muscle fibers to help you strengthen muscles and develop more muscle tissue. This leads to increased muscle density and increased strength. You’ll enjoy improved balance, coordination and posture, and increased bone density.
3 Easy things you can do at home for Headaches:
In addition to having the in-office care with specific chiropractic adjustments and rehab it is crucial that the patient play an active role in restoring normal function to the body. When the patient is an active participant in their healthcare, they will get much better and much faster results than just relying on the in-office care. We like to teach our patients how to not need a doctor and this is one of those facets of healthcare where you can make big strides on your own.
Cervical Denneroll (Neck Orthotic): The Denneroll is a scientifically proven and research backed device to help take pressure off the joints in your neck and restore the cervical lordosis (neck curve). The Denneroll can only be prescribed by chiropractors and is based off your x-ray analysis. Most people have a reduction in their neck curve and do not even know it. So, to some degree everyone could use a Denneroll just due to the fact that most of us are sitting too much, looking at computer screens/phones or have had some sort of previous injury or trauma. For those of you that are not under care in our office and do not have a Denneroll you can roll up a small towel and place it under your neck. You can lay on a harder surface (carpet, thin yoga mat) while using the towel for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Stretching exercises: Stretching can help reduce the tension in the soft tissues that support your neck that may be contributing to your headache condition. See the video below to view the different stretches and exercises you can do at home to help with your headaches.
Stay Hydrated: Staying hydrated (with water) is vital for our overall health but can also be playing a part in any headache you may be having. When the body is dehydrated, the brain can temporarily shrink from fluid loss. This can cause the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain and resulting in a dehydration type headache. Also, the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) requires proper hydration to prevent muscle cramping and spasms. You should be drinking approximately 6-8 glasses of water per day or half your body weight in ounces of water.
Different Types of Headaches you may be suffering from:
Tension Headaches: These headaches are the most common type of headache. It is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. It can feel like it starts in the back of the neck, upper back or back of the head and radiate across the entire skull. These headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to up to a week-long intermittently. They are usually episodic in nature coming and going over weeks, months and even years if not dealt with properly. Unfortunately, a lot times we try for the quick fix of an over-the-counter medication to relieve some of the pain. The problem is that this avenue never actually gets to the root cause of the problem and is why these headaches can continue to persist over time. The biggest causative factors we find with these tension type headaches are poor postural patterns, extended phone and computer use as well as previous injuries or car accidents. Dr. Greg gets great results with headache relief in the office so that they never come back and actually correcting the root cause of the problem. He does this through specific chiropractic adjustments, postural restoration, stretching in the office and at home as well as lifestyle modification recommendations.
Sinus headaches: Sinus Headaches can be another common type of headache you may experience. Your sinuses are air-filled spaces inside your forehead (Frontal Sinus), cheekbones (Maxillary Sinus), and behind the bridge of your nose (Ethmoid and Sphenoid Sinuses). When they get inflamed, they swell, make more mucus, and the channels that drain them can get blocked. The build-up of pressure in your sinuses causes pain that feels like a headache. You will feel a deep and constant pain in your cheekbones, forehead, or the bridge of your nose. The pain usually gets stronger when you move your head suddenly or strain. At the same time, you might have other sinus symptoms, such as a runny nose, feeling of fullness in your ears, fever and swelling in your face. You may think well how can Chiropractic help with these types of headaches? The nerve that controls the function of the sinuses actually stems from a cranial nerve called the Trigeminal Nerve. When we deliver an adjustment to the upper cervical spine (Occiput, C1, C2) it can have a direct effect on that nerve to function more optimally. Countless times when a patient gets off the table, they report their sinuses feel open or that they have “drainage”.
Migraine Headaches: One of the most common and debilitating headaches of all can be the Migraine type headache. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsating sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with simple daily activities. For some people, a warning sign known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking. Since migraines have a direct connection to the neuro-vascular connection in the brain, spine and neck, chiropractic can have a direct effect on reducing and eliminating these problems. We have had great success in our office with the specific techniques we use to help people suffering with migraine type headaches.
Cervicogenic Headaches: Cervicogenic headache (CGH) occurs when pain is referred from a specific source in the neck up to the head. This pain is commonly a steady ache or dull feeling, usually on side of the head and neck. This can be caused from a bio-mechanical dysfunction (subluxation) in the neck that has referral pain up the back of the head, across the head and even into the forehead. These types of headaches can mimic and feel similar to tension-type headaches as well. Through chiropractic care and removing the subluxation from the spine, these types of headaches see drastic changes in just a short period of time.
Concussion/Post-Concussion Headaches: With concussion being an obvious acute traumatic injury to the brain it must be taken very seriously. Concussion itself will be talked about more in depth on a different page. Here I would like to describe how the impact to the body/head can also affect the cervical spine. The shear mechanics of sustaining a concussion does not allow someone to escape a neck/cervical spine injury. A whiplash injury to the neck only takes about 5 G’s of force. A concussion can have forces near 90 G’s!!!! So, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with a concussion you have also had a neck injury! As we have discussed above neck dysfunction/subluxation is a major component of headache type problems. If the cervical spine is left untreated these post-concussive symptoms may linger for months or years.