If you have headaches, you may struggle to figure out what’s causing them. Many people turn to their family doctor, but general practitioners don’t always provide a firm diagnosis or an effective treatment plan.
The doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications you were already taking or offer vague advice like, “Avoid stress.”
When you have persistent headaches that haven’t responded to over-the-counter medications and your doctor doesn’t offer any solutions, the next step should be to contact a chiropractor at Optimum Health Rehab.
Yes, chiropractors can treat headaches. In fact, many headaches are caused by issues chiropractors often help people with – poor posture, misaligned vertebrae, tight muscles in the neck, and more.
Grayson Headache Treatment That Works
The first step in treating headaches is diagnosing the root cause of your pain – something many doctors struggle to do.
A chiropractor will take a thorough medical history, run tests such as X-rays and blood work, and arrive at a diagnosis. Then they will create a unique treatment plan based on your needs and health issues.
Here are some other treatment options we may use for your headaches, depending on the cause:
Spinal manipulation may only temporarily solve the problem for some patients if the vertebrae slide out of alignment again (sometimes called vertebral subluxation). This can happen for a number of reasons, including your daily activities.
For example, if you sit in a specific position at work and frequently turn your head to the same side to speak to customers or colleagues, this could cause some of the vertebrae in your neck to move out of alignment repeatedly.
Sitting in an unsupportive chair is another potential problem. Combined with stress and contracted muscles, subluxations can cause repeated headaches, even with adjustment therapy.
This is why we sometimes recommend that patients work with a physical rehab specialist in addition to regular spinal adjustments.
One of our talented Physical rehab specialists will review your case and the causes of your headaches, then make suggestions to help you relieve muscle tension, strengthen the muscles and ligaments in your neck and back, and reduce the risk of more misalignments.
Treatment could include the following:
- Stretching exercises. Your therapist will walk you through exercises targeted for the specific areas of the spine or the muscles involved. Stretching helps “limber up” muscles and tendons in the neck and back, reducing tension and allowing a better range of motion in the future.
- Other exercises. These may be aimed at improving core strength, working on your posture, or making other changes to support your recovery.
- Occupational recommendations. If you suspect how you sit or move at work or home contributes to your headaches, your therapist will help you find ways to reduce the strain on your spine. This might include getting an ergonomic chair, taking frequent breaks to stand up and stretch, trying a standing desk, or changing positions every few hours to distribute stress evenly throughout the day.
- Spinal traction. A PT specialist performs this therapy to help widen spaces between vertebrae or stretch the spine. It can be done manually or with mechanical aids and is often helpful for patients whose vertebrae repeatedly drift out of alignment. However, it is not appropriate for everyone – patients with osteoporosis (weak bones) or some types of cancer should not have spinal traction. Your chiropractor and therapist will screen you for any conditions that would preclude traction treatment.
Trigger Point Injections
Some people may have a particularly tight area or areas in the muscles of their neck or shoulders. A massage therapist will do their best to release these “knots” or spasms in the muscle, and massage is usually effective in the short term.
Be warned that the knots may return as you go about your life and experience more stress.
Trigger point injections offer a more long-term solution. A massage therapist locates the knot or knots, and we will inject this area with steroids or anti-inflammatory medication for longer-lasting relief.
We will usually continue with massage and physical therapy to provide the best symptom relief.
At Optimum Health Rehab, we take a holistic approach to helping patients with headaches and other conditions.
We don’t just dash off a prescription and send you on your way, but create a plan that involves helping the whole patient. This includes looking at your diet, activity level, and other lifestyle factors that can affect health and stress.
We can often recommend dietary changes or supplements that help reduce headaches. For instance, some people feel much better if we determine they’re low on specific vitamins or minerals and prescribe these in supplement form.
Common Causes of Headaches
One of the reasons people struggle to get headache treatment is a lack of emphasis on finding the root cause. Sometimes doctors dismiss headaches as “stress” or “working too hard” and leave the patient to find their own solutions.
Stress may seem like a benign problem to a doctor, but it can seriously affect your health, and headaches are one way the body might let you know it’s under pressure.
How does stress cause headaches?
When the body experiences stress, it responds by causing the muscles to tense up. That includes muscles in your neck and shoulders, which can cause headaches if you remain stressed (tensed up) for too long.
If your headaches are genuinely caused by stress, massage therapy, physical therapy, and spinal manipulation can help your muscles relax, relieving stress and headache pain.
But not all headaches are due to stress. Here are some of the primary headache types you could experience:
- Tension or stress headaches. The main symptom is pain in front of the ears or at the temples. In addition to the treatments mentioned above, we may recommend diet and exercise changes or supplements to help you lower stress levels.
- Sinus headaches. If your pain is caused by sinus congestion, it’s usually centered behind the cheekbones or nose. Identifying the cause – such as allergies or a sinus infection – can help us treat your headaches.
- Exertion headaches. These are usually brought on by intense physical exercise. You may need a less strenuous exercise program, massage therapy, or supplements to reduce them.
- Migraines. These headaches can be severe, and in addition to throbbing head pain, other symptoms may include nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, or visual disturbances. If your headaches are diagnosed as migraines, there are prescription drugs available, but some people find the side effects problematic. If traditional migraine treatments don’t work well for you, a chiropractor may be able to suggest electrical stimulation, spinal manipulation, diet changes, or supplements.
- Hormones. Some headaches are linked to changes in the menstrual cycle or other hormones. A chiropractor can run tests to determine if your hormone levels are out of range and make recommendations to treat any issues.
- Cluster headaches. Characterized by severe, intense pain, cluster headaches are more common in men than women (while migraines are more common in women than men). They’re sometimes treated with steroids, but these powerful drugs can’t be used regularly due to the potential for severe side effects. Your chiropractor may recommend supplements like melatonin and other therapies.
- Cervicogenic headaches. If you have pain at the back or top of your head, you might have a cervicogenic headache, which is most often brought on by long periods of sitting or poor posture. Some patients benefit from massage therapy or spinal manipulation in the short term and physical therapy to adjust their posture in the long term.
How Does Having Your Back Adjusted Help with Headaches?
This is a common question, and we understand that some patients are skeptical because they don’t see the connection. It’s easy to think that spinal manipulation is only helpful for people with back pain, but it can aid in a wide variety of conditions.
The spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae, which move with you as you go about your daily activities.
This requires flexibility, and as a result, the vertebrae can sometimes drift out of alignment for numerous reasons – injury, trauma, poor posture, repetitive motions or activities, sleeping at an uncomfortable angle, etc.
This can certainly cause back pain, but because it could also affect the nerves and soft tissues in the back, neck, and shoulders, misaligned vertebrae can cause headaches or pain in different body areas.
For this reason, spinal manipulation – a process where an experienced chiropractor adjusts the vertebrae into a more natural position – is sometimes helpful in reducing headache pain.
How Can I Get Help With My Headache Pain in Grayson?
Please contact Optimum Health Rehab to schedule a consultation at our Grayson office. Our friendly staff members are happy to help if you have health insurance questions or need assistance transferring your medical records.
Once you arrive, we will get to know you, taking a detailed history to aid in your diagnosis. After determining the reason or reasons for your headaches, we’ll recommend a comprehensive treatment plan and schedule follow-up visits so we can make adjustments as needed.