Headaches can be very debilitating, and if persistent, can significantly impact your quality of life and daily function.
Headaches are one of the most common illnesses in Australia, with around 15% of people taking pain medication for headache at any given time. There are many different types and causes of headaches, so it is important to seek advice from a qualified health professional. Chiropractors are well trained in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of headaches, as well as knowing when you need to be referred onto another health practitioner, such as your GP, for further investigation.
What Causes Headaches?
There are a number causes for headaches. Some of the more common causes we see at the clinic include:
- muscular tension
- arthritis (especially of the spine/neck)
- postural problems, poor ergonomics
- dental or jaw problems
- injuries to the head, neck, spine (eg. Whiplash)
- eye problems
- high blood pressure
Two of the more common types of headaches we treat at the clinic are Tension Headaches and Cervicogenic (Neck) Headaches.
Tension or Stress-Related Headaches
Tension headaches are by far the most common type of headache, with two out of three people in their lifetime experiencing one. It is characterised by:
- tight band of pressure around the head
- often muscle tightness in the neck, jaw and head
- often triggered by physical or emotional stress
Muscular and joint issues in the neck can contribute to these types of headaches, often resulting from postural and ergonomic problems.
Increased stress leads to the release of certain 'stress chemicals' that can trigger or exacerbate headache symptoms in a number of ways, including:
- increased tension held in the muscles of the neck and upper back
- reduced pain tolerance
- lowering the effectiveness of pain-medications
- reducing endorphin levels (our bodies natural pain-relieving chemical)
Cervicogenic (Neck) Headaches
Cervicogenic headaches are also extremely common, and refer to headaches that are caused by mechanical problems or arthritis in the joints of the cervical spine (neck). These headaches are usually located at the base of the skull and can refer up over the back of the head. Symptoms often correlate with degenerative changes seen on imaging, so your chiropractor may send you for x-rays/scans in order to make a correct diagnosis and guide appropriate treatment.
The most effective treatment for these types of headaches include:
- Spinal Manipulative Therapy (joint adjustments)
- Joint mobilisations
- Trigger point therapy/massage techniques
- Rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the muscles that stabilise your head on top of your spine
- Advice on posture and ergonomics with daily activities
We are here to help
Our team here at Flex Health Professions are experienced in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment for headaches, and here ready to assist your path to recovery!