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Tension HeadacheHeadaches are a common problem for many people.   It has been shown that upwards of 90% of people have headache symptoms in any given year.  As with many other conditions, headache symptoms can range from a mild nuisance to a severe, disabling problem.  There are many different kinds of headaches.  The most well known types are:  stress/tension headaches, migraines, “sinus” headaches, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is the stress/tension type.   Headaches have many different root causes, which include:  physical, chemical, and emotional/psychological, as well as others.  Chiropractic care can be very effective in treating headaches; the effectiveness is dependent on many factors.  Because the stress type headache is the most common, that is the type that will be discussed in this section.  If you suffer from headaches and have any questions about how we can help you, we will be glad to discuss those questions with you.

Stress/Tension Headaches

As was already noted, stress/tension headaches are the most common.   They can be caused by a gradual build up of tension or can be caused by a trauma, such as a whiplash, where you get muscle spasms as a result of the injury.  The tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back causes stress in those areas and that irritates the nerves that cause the headache.  It often starts as a pressure at the base of the skull and can build until you feel the pain go over the top of the head or behind the eyes.  As the headaches get worse, the pain can get severe enough to cause nausea or spotting in the field of vision.  These symptoms are more common in migraine headaches, but can occur with tension headaches as well.  Chiropractic treatment of headaches usually consists of a series of manipulations of the cervical spine to restore motion and decrease the tension in the muscles.   Along with that, we often will do therapeutic modalities like electrical stimulation, heat, ice, etc. to help decrease the muscle tension further and allow the manipulation to hold for a longer period of time.  Lastly, we also provide stretches and strengthening exercises to restore the proper posture and reduce muscle tension.

Many people try to care for headaches by taking over the counter medications, like ibuprofen, to combat the headache pains.  That often works for a while to get rid of the pain, but it doesn’t do anything to fix the underlying problem that is actually producing that pain.  Most of the time, the headaches will go away for a while with the medication, but as the tension increases and the neck gets more sore and stiff, the headaches gradually get worse and eventually, the OTC medicines no longer work.  The reason Chiropractic care is effective is that we treat the actual problem that is causing the headache and not the pain itself.