Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. 50% of the global adult population had at least one headache in the past year. There are many different headache symptoms, with pain occurring in multiple regions of the face or head, ranging from stabbing, shooting, and squeezing to zapping and burning. Headaches can affect an individual’s entire quality of their life – dampening personal relationships, inhibiting productivity at work, affecting social life, even causing dependence on medication.
Headaches are caused by a multitude of sources – environmental, hormonal, physical, chemical, or otherwise. In an age where more and more people are exposed to different forms of stress, it is critical to understand the different kinds of headaches and what causes them to address the root cause effectively. According to the World Health Organization, these are the most common kinds of headache disorders:
The majority of diagnosed headaches are tension headaches, often related to stress, depression, or anxiety, with pain felt all over the head.
There are an estimated one million cluster headache sufferers in the U.S. Cluster headaches are sharp, excruciating headaches. Pain can occur several times per day for months and then go away for a similar period of time.
Hormone Headache (Menstrual Migraine)
Women suffer migraines 3x more frequently than men, and menstrual migraines affect 70% of these women. They occur before, during, or immediately after their period, or during ovulation. Menstrual migraines are primarily caused by estrogen. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone change, women will be more vulnerable to headaches. Because oral contraceptives influence estrogen levels, women may experience more menstrual migraines on birth control pills.
More than just a “bad headache,” a migraine is a legitimate biological state affecting nearly 30 million Americans; one in four U.S. households has a migraine sufferer.
Medication-overuse Headache (MOH)
MOHs are caused by chronic and excessive use of medication to treat headaches. This is the most common secondary headache disorder.
Common Causes of Headaches in Lakewood, WA
Vertebra, or multiple vertebrae, lose their natural motion becoming fixated or “stuck,” causing inflammation and a build-up of pressure on the nerves exiting the cervical spine (neck).
Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain (Cervical Spine)
These are injuries caused by sudden rapid movements (car accidents, sports accidents, slips at home, working) that result in either tearing or injury to the muscles in the neck (strain) or overstretching and injury to the ligaments (sprain).
Whether it be from an acute injury or chronic wear and tear, the joints in the neck – which allow for your neck bones to bend, twist, flex, and extend – can become irritated and painful, contributing to headaches of any kind.
Whether it’s demanding working conditions, working from home, or household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning), poor posture places much stress on the neck’s bones, muscles, and ligaments.
Hormones are delicate chemicals that require precise biochemistry and nutrition. Vaping, smoking, and energy drinks are all effective methods of causing chemical injury to the body and upsetting the delicate hormonal balance inside.
How We Address Headaches In Lakewood, WA
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
Understanding the specific cause of your headache pain is critical in managing it, so we always start with an in-depth analysis of your body and your concerns. Our doctors will take the time to sit with you, listen to your concerns, ask specific questions, and thoroughly examine you. Functional range of motion, postural analysis, functional weight-bearing stance, hands-on palpation of your cervical spine, and, if needed, X-rays will help determine the specific cause of your headaches.
Specific Chiropractic Care in Lakewood, Wa
As chiropractors in Lakewood, WA, we analyze the spine for “subluxation.” This term refers to the vertebra or multiple vertebrae that lose their natural motion becoming fixated or “stuck.” This loss of healthy movement can cause inflammation of the soft tissue and pressure and irritation to the nerves leaving the spinal cord. Subluxation can absolutely cause headache pain. It can also cause a whole host of other health concerns such as digestive disorders, reproductive issues, extremity pain, tingling, and or numbness.
The only way to remove subluxation present in the spine is through gentle, specific chiropractic care. The chiropractic adjustment restores normal motion into the spine, thus removing that built-up pressure on your nervous system. The most significant factor when it comes to helping resolve your headaches is time. The amount of time your body has been injured and subluxated will help us determine when we should expect to see significant improvements. If subluxation is the cause of your recurring headaches, you must address it; otherwise, you may be stuck chasing pain without any resolution.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
Every patient is unique. At Vital Family Chiropractic, we use our exam findings (including X-ray) to help determine which exercises in and out of the office will be right for you. In our office, we will always teach you how to properly warm up the soft tissue in your neck before each adjustment; however, what we do at home and work matters just as much! Whether it’s a 9-5 desk job, heavy construction, parenting, or students glued to their textbooks, we all have stressful lifestyles. We have to balance and mitigate that stress through specific targeted therapy. Our doctors will sit with you and review all the necessary exercises to perform in our office prior to every adjustment, as well as things to do at home to ensure that your body has the best possible chance of recovering.
Massage Therapy in Lakewood, WA
Because of how neurologically sensitive your cervical spine (neck) is, it relies heavily on a healthy soft tissue system (muscles, ligaments, tendons), and we must take care of it. The health of our neck muscles directly relates to how well we receive an adjustment and how long our body holds onto it.
Our licensed massage therapists are skilled in assessing the neck and skull to determine the critical areas of muscular imbalances, tension, and injury. Whether it be from an automobile accident, overuse, or poor posture, the health of neck muscles, ligaments, and fascia heavily impacts the level of pain we feel as well as the level of motion our spine is capable of having.
Our therapists utilize several soft tissue therapy techniques to give you the best possible experience. Techniques include:
- Swedish Massage
- Trigger Point
- Deep Tissue
- Lymphatic Drainage
- Myofascial Release
- Chair Massage
- And more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Aren’t some headaches normal?
The normal amount of headaches a person should experience is none. However, we live in a world where stress is prolific, so, unfortunately, headaches can be common. Serious progressions of headaches may look like: having to call out of work frequently, being bedridden, vomiting and nausea, inability to cope without medications, and or depression/anxiety caused by your headaches.
What is better for my headaches: a chiropractor or medications?
That answer depends on your health goals. Taking medication every day or whenever you have a headache can effectively mask the pain allowing you to get through the workday or be the kind of parent you need to be; however, that comes with heavy consequences. Excessive Tylenol use has been linked to severe liver damage, and chronic Excedrin use has been linked to cardiovascular problems. Utilizing chiropractic care in tandem with lifestyle changes addresses the specific cause of your headache. Allowing your body to heal is the best way to ensure that these headaches don’t keep coming back over and over.
When should I see a chiropractor in Lakewood, WA for headaches?
Often when people come in with a specific problem (like headaches), it’s been happening for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, the longer a problem has been around, the longer it may take to naturally resolve it, just like any other process in the body. The best time to seek out chiropractic care is BEFORE the appearance of symptoms! The second best time to come in is today!
Is screen time that bad?
In today’s world, there is almost no avoiding screens; however, we have to understand what’s happening inside when we are actively using our handheld technology. 15° of flexion causes your skull to place 27 lbs of pressure on these structures. 30° of flexion generates up to 40 lbs of pressure. Imagine 40 lbs crushing your spine all day long! 90% of what your brain NEEDS comes from your healthy functional spine. If you use screens (iPads, phones, computers), you should at the very least have your spine examined to ensure there is optimal function!