Who Suffers From Headaches?
Millions of adults and children, worldwide, suffer from headaches on a regular basis. Headaches are among the most common physical complaint prompting people to treat themselves or get professional assistance. One estimate holds that some 50 million people in the U.S. get severe, long lasting, recurring headaches. Most headaches are not signs of serious underlying conditions, but they can be very distracting, debilitating and account for significant amounts of time lost from work.
Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. An estimated 28 million people in the United States (about 12% of the population) will experience a migraine headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches. After puberty, more women than men are affected: an estimated 18% of women and 6% of men will experience a migraine headache.
Migraines and other types of headache — such as tension headache and sinus headache — are painful and can rob you of your quality of life. Migraine symptoms include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.
Sometimes migraines are accompanied by an “aura”. Migraines with aura account for less than 20% of all migraines. The pain alone is enough to stop you from carrying on your daily activities. Even before the headache begins, you will often notice strange symptoms such as dizziness, ringing in your ears, seeing zigzag lines, and being sensitive to light.
Factors suspected of causing migraines with aura include genetics and being overweight. Substances, behaviors, and environment may trigger migraines, as well. It is known that migraines often run in families. They frequently begin in childhood and worsen through adolescence. Over time, the frequency and number of migraines lessens and become rare after age 50.
What Can Chiropractic Do?
Chiropractors have had considerable success relieving the cause of headache pain. Chiropractic has been shown to be as effective if not more effective than medications in reducing the frequency, duration and severity of headaches. Chiropractic is particularly effective in treating cervicogenic headaches. Even though cervicogenic and other tension-type headaches may not involve stress or muscle tension, the chiropractor’s ability to adjust spinal abnormalities seems to lessen or remove the forces contributing to many individual’s headache pain. Chiropractic adjustments affect the information from the nerves that supply the muscles and blood vessels of the head and neck. Specific spinal adjustments can help restore the mind/body communications. Headache pain often decreases with improved nervous system control of the body.
What Causes Tension Headaches?
While tension headaches are the most frequently occurring type of headache, their cause is unknown. The most likely cause is contraction of the muscles that cover the skull. When the muscles covering the skull are stressed, they may spasm and cause pain. Common sites for spasm may include the base of the skull where the trapezius muscle inserts, the temples where muscles that assist the jaw to move are located, and the forehead.
There is little research to confirm the exact cause of tension headaches. Tension headaches occur because of physical or emotional stress placed on the body. Physical stress that may cause tension headaches include difficult and prolonged manual labor, or sitting at a desk or computer for long periods of time. Emotional stress may also cause tension headaches by causing the muscles surrounding the skull to contract.