If you have a headache, you’re not alone. It has been reported that as many as 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. These headaches can come in a variety of forms, some are mild, achy annoying headaches that build up over the course of the day while others can be severe, sharp, stabbing and at times blinding headaches that knock you out for days at a time. What do you do when you suffer from a headache? Do you tough it out and struggle through the day? Take an over the counter medication and hope the pain goes away? Or are you forced to lie down in a dark room and just pray for tomorrow to come and for your headache to be gone. None of these actually get to the root cause of your headaches and fortunately there is a better alternative.
What causes a headache anyways and how can we prevent them?
There are numerous triggers for headaches including food sensitivities, environmental allergies, light, sound, stress, noise, insomnia, alcohol overconsumption, blood sugar issues and the list goes on. However, according to the American Chiropractic Association:
“About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.”
So what does this mean? It means that by simply altering your daily activities and behaviors you can greatly reduce the likelihood that you will create the increased tension and joint irritation that is the number one cause of headaches in America. Here are a few simple changes you can make today:
- Reduce the length of time you are staring at a computer or cell phone. As noted by the ACA, the prolonged sitting in a fixed posture is a huge contributor to headaches because it causes a buildup of tension in the head and neck region. By simply setting a timer and taking a quick break from the screen every 30-45 minutes you can most likely eliminate this problem. A quick trip to the restroom or water fountain is a long enough break. You just need to give your body a chance to move for a couple of minutes to break the cycle of sitting in a fixed posture.
- Get up and move. A little exercise can go a long way to reducing the stress and tension of the day. It doesn’t have to be a sweat drenched workout. Simple habits like walking over to talk to a co-worker instead of emailing, taking the stairs at work or going for a quick walk over the lunch hour or at the end of the day can do wonders for reducing your stress and elevating your mood.
- De-stress or adopt stress reducing skills. Stress is a huge contributor to increased tension in the head, neck and jaw. If you can change your life situation to minimize stress then by all means do it. Not just for the sake of your headaches but for your overall health. If you don’t have the ability to limit your stress then look into ways to help you respond better to it. Meditation is my favorite weapon for helping cope with the stresses of daily life. It can be learned for free with a number of apps on your smartphone or a book from the library and it can be done virtually anywhere. As little as 5-10 minutes a day can do wonders.
So what if I already suffer from headaches? What can I do?
Well we have already established that 95% of headaches are caused by increased tension and joint irritation in the head and neck so doesn’t it make sense that we remove that tension and joint irritation to relieve the headaches? That is where Chiropractic comes in. A Chiropractic adjustment can quickly and safely reduce the tension in the head and neck area, many times providing almost instant relief! As a matter of fact, in over 10 years of practice and thousands of patients we have had less than ten total patients that did not at least see a reduction in their intensity or frequency of headaches compared to the thousands that have experienced long lasting relief. That is an amazing record of success! This is because we are removing the cause of the headaches (tension and joint irritation) not just covering up the pain with a pill. I often tell my patients that headaches are one of my favorite conditions to treat because they respond so well. So whether you are suffering from headaches caused by stress, tension, sinus pressure or even migraines there is excellent chance Chiropractic can help!