Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and migraines are a common reason for consulting a doctor. Up to 90% of adults report having head pain of some sort and they tend to be more common in women than in men1.
From being a mild irritation that slows you down at home, at work or with family and friends to disabling pain that knocks you out, headaches and migraines affect your life in various ways. Beyond the actual pain there are other issues that can develop including fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, altered movement patterns, impaired decision making and long term behavioural issues.
Headaches and migraine are the 6th leading cause of disability worldwide2 and migraines have even been link to changes in the structure of the brain. While they can be disabling they are very rarely linked to sinister conditions like cancer or other brain diseases.
Typically there are 4 primary types of headache: tension, cluster, migraine and medication rebound and can be further classified into over 150 different diagnostic categories 3 including trauma, sinus, nutrition and tumours.
While painkillers, lotions, massages and pain modulating devices might be able to temporarily numb the pain they do not seem to address the underlying cause. Apart from the harmful effects of drugs, their numbing effect will also force the body to compensate in new ways that will cause pain and damage elsewhere in your body.
Muscles, bones, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels and fascia could all play a role in head pain and the question is why are they causing pain? What recent advances in the technology of bodywork have found is that slumped posture is often linked to pain of various sorts.
When you stand in a relaxed position your body is meant to hold you up. What often happens is that we have to hold our bodies up to prevent them from slumping. When a person’s body tends to slump forward it creates tension or pinching on many of the sensitive structures in your body and creates pain. Many time the cause for the slump is not in the same place as the pain it creates. By finding the cause for the slump and working to correct it the pain can resolve.
Because the cause of headaches and migraines could lie in areas of the body other than the head, a solution lies in looking at what is happening in the whole body and not just at the site of pain. A very useful way to do this is to assess body function and posture to analyse how your body is holding itself upright. This gives you a window into your spine and nervous system so a person trained in postural analyses can determine where the source might be.
Armed with that information you can now find a professional who can help by working with your body to correct those things that the body can’t and to improve your lifestyle to help your body improve the things that it can. Lifestyle changes might begin with changes in 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. Chiropractic has been repeatedly shown to be very effective for headaches and migraines of various sorts and could help you. In a comprehensive review of clinical studies, Chiropractic has been found to be effective for managing headaches and migraines4.
At Peak Chiropractic we are trained to thoroughly assess your body with postural analysis, functional testing, x-ray analysis (if necessary) and help to create a plan to relieve your pain, correct the underlying problem and get you back to you best. We are also able to work with your body to correct things that your body cannot and to counsel you on what you can do to help your body heal more effectively. To find out how we can help please call 021 671 3303.
- 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.