Headaches and Migraines
Did you know that up to 90% of adults report having some variation of head pain1?
Headaches and migraines are the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide2 and affect women more commonly than men. Research further shows that migraines have even been linked to changes in the structure of the brain.
For some, headaches present as a mild irritation that slows them down at home or decreases their productivity at work. It’s commonly described as ”annoying but manageable”. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. For many sufferers, symptoms present as a disabling pain that leave them unable to function and greatly affect their quality of life. Beyond the physical pain, there are secondary problems that often develop alongside the headache including fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, altered movement patterns, impaired decision making and even behavioural problems.
Headaches can be classified into four main types: tension, cluster, migraine and medication rebound. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. There are more than 150 different diagnostic categories 3 including trauma, sinus, nutrition and tumours.
Symptoms vs. Cause
With treatment of disease, the focus is often largely on decreasing the symptoms associated with the disease process with little regard for the underlying cause. Headaches are no exception, with treatment protocol usually involving painkillers, muscle relaxants, massage and pain modulating devices. These forms of care usually only result in short-term relief.
Apart from the harmful effects of drugs, their numbing effect forces the body to develop compensation patterns in an attempt to deal with the underlying factors. These compensation patterns often lead to overuse and damage elsewhere in the body over the long term. Muscles, bones, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels and fascia could all play a role in head pain. The question should not only be how to get rid of the pain but what is the cause of the pain?
Recent advances in the research and technology of bodywork have found that poor posture could be at the root of it all.
When standing in a relaxed upright posture your body is meant to hold you up by use of your postural muscles. Due to our unnatural lifestyle and habits, these vital postural muscles are often weak and unable to keep us from slumping. As the torso leans forward in this slumped posture, it creates tension in the soft tissue and fascia, leading to compression of the delicate structures in the nervous system and, consequently,pain!
Unfortunately, these pain signals often only appear years later, once the body has attempted every compensation pattern and exhausted all of its adaption protocols.
Could posture be at the root of a headache? Possibly. An effective place to start is to have an in-depth posture analysis by a professional. This will provide insight into the current structure of the spine and the consequent impact on the function of the nervous system. The goal is not only to find the cause of the pain locally but to look at the body as a whole.
Now that you have more information you can find a professional who can help you find and correct the underlying cause of your headaches.
Changes might begin with lifestyle changes, such as how you sit, sleep and stand, and move onto exercises, nutritional changes and stress management.
People who see Chiropractors report relief from many different types of headache and migraine and are able to function at higher levels. In a comprehensive review of clinical studies, Chiropractic has been found to be effective for managing headaches and migraines4.
At One Chiropractic, we are trained to thoroughly assess your body with postural analysis and functional testing and help create a plan to not only relieve the pain but correct the underlying problem for long-term improvement in your health and vitality.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly – Centres for Disease Control.
- Bloom DE, Cafiero ET, Jan e Llopis E, et al. The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases. World Economic Forum. January 2012:1–48.
- Williams LA. A concise discussion of headache types, Part 1. Int J Pharm Compd. 2012;16(2):125–132.
- Clar C, Tsertsvadze A, Court R, Hundt GL, Clarke A, Sutcliffe P. Clinical effectiveness of manual therapy for the management of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions: systematic review and update of UK evidence report. Chiropr Man Therap. 2014;22(1):12. doi:10.1186/2045-709X-22-12.