Headaches can bring a frustrating and mind-numbing experience to your day. Even seemingly small headaches have the potential to become a distraction from the tasks we seek to accomplish. There you are freely enjoying your day, and then it begins. Maybe the pain starts small or completely surprises you.
Work time and fun family days may be missed, adding to the frustration and stress that may have played a role in the headache’s origin in the first place. Perhaps this has happened to you more than once. So, how can we tell when some rest, water, and a dose of ibuprofen may be good choices and when we need to consider medical attention? When is stress a factor and when is it not?
How can we best tell what kind of treatment will best fit our situation? Let’s look at some of what needs to be considered when seeking answers to these headache questions. Gaining a small understanding of how the body can use pain to help us is a good place to start.
Understanding Your Headache Situation
Headache and migraine pain can begin through hundreds of seen and unseen sources. Narrowing down just exactly which one of those many possibilities relates to you is not always a simple process. Healing and recovery can begin even if an exact label has not been claimed for your specific headache situation. Understanding when to get care and what kind of care should be considered can play a wonderfully helpful role in getting the process started.
The American Chiropractic Association helps us to understand that a great majority of headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. The Association includes that spinal manipulation is known to have an impact on headaches that originate in the neck. Head pain that is not related to tension in the body may still have a relationship with another part of the body that needs to be considered for proper healing.
Trained to work with the skeletal system and its functions throughout the body, doctors of chiropractic offer a unique setting for providing relief for headache pain. Knowing how the mechanisms and systems of the body are meant to work together can offer patients a new perspective on the pain they experience. The human body is meant to work as a unit. Chiropractic works to find out which portions are not cooperating in the unit and direct healing through that information.
When portions of the body are not functioning in the manner intended, they often seek to ‘share’ their unhappiness with other portions of the body through pain signals. This is why we may feel pain in more than one place in the body – even after an injury to only one limb or a portion of the body. For example, sciatic pain can run the full length of the leg even though the initial cause for the pain may only rest near the lower back.
It may also be helpful to understand the difference between primary and secondary headaches. A primary headache is one in which the headache itself is considered the medical concern. A secondary headache is generated as a result of another illness in the body. Both types of headaches let us know that attention is needed for the body to function as intended.
Both primary and secondary headache pain sufferers can find great improvement in their conditions through care that brings healing to the body as a whole unit. Pain felt in the head is often due to unnecessary pressure that needs to be removed or released in some manner. Finding out what may be causing such pressure at various points in the body plays a key role in removing headache and migraine pain.
More Than Just Stress
It is true that stress often plays a role in headache pain. However, it is not always to blame for our headache and migraine pain. Yes, this element of life must be considered as a possible player in a patient’s headache situation. However, assuming that this is the only thing causing the pain will most often not bring healing – or understanding that can help direct healing. A number of health considerations must be included in order for a complete understanding and proper examination to be accomplished.
Seeking Care for Headache Pain Relief: When to Get Help
Head trauma, profuse bleeding, and life-threatening conditions should be brought to the immediate attention of a medical professional. Once it has been determined that your life is not in danger, considering how to proceed with restoring your physical condition becomes imperative. Chiropractic care for recovery and wellness is a powerful tool for a meaningful and efficient recovery period. How can we know when should such type of care be considered?
Ruling out potentially short-term conditions like dehydration, heat stroke, and high altitude sickness is always something to consider. Recovery from headaches associated with these is usually attainable through plenty of water, rest, and care for each type of situation. However, it is not uncommon for someone to believe that one of these is at the base of their headache, when in fact it is another matter that they must consider.
Three or more headaches within seven days, recurring headache pain, and pain that you do not understand are all situations that would give cause for treatment. Over the counter pain relievers have their place in medicine, but they do not treat the underlying causes of the pain they help to alleviate. Seeking care that works to eliminate the cause of pain is the most efficient and effective way to treat headache and migraine pain conditions.
Still not sure what to think about your headache situation? Ask yourself these questions regarding headache pain:
- Have I been hit in the head (sports injury, car wreck, etc.)?
- Is there redness in one or both eyes? Is there a tenderness near one or both temples?
- Am I having trouble completing regular daily activities and tasks?
- Have there been changes in my ability to think cognitively?
- Has there been a change in my headache patterns?
- Has one or more of my headaches been unusually severe or gotten worse over time?
- Am I experiencing constant headaches every day or does it feel like that is so?
- Does the pain increase or change with movement? Does exertion bring head pain?
- Do I experience headaches behind the eyes and forehead or headaches in the back of the head?
- Does my pain often show through a throbbing headache?
- What other symptoms seem to come with or before my headaches?
- Have others noticed a change in my personality?
- Have my headaches ever woken me up or developed very abruptly?
- Did the pain first start after the age of 50?
- Do my headaches alarm me or cause me concern?
- Might my head pain be related to a health condition that can be treated to help bring relief?
If one or more of these questions has you pegged, seeking care is advisable.
If an injury has not been sustained, and you are uncertain about the intensity of your headaches, seeking care as soon as possible lends a hand in a speedy recovery. If you are uncomfortable with your headache situation, then you are justified in getting answers to help you recover efficiently.
What Kind of Care Is Best for Your Headaches
Life-threatening situations like a split skull or another traumatic event should be taken to an emergency room by ambulance when possible. If your location does not permit this, make sure that a safe path is made to receive the care that is necessary. If your situation rests more in not understanding your pain, experiencing recurring pain, or simply a desire to ditch headache pain, chiropractic care may offer you a set of benefits that you did not expect to find.
The unique ability for chiropractic care to treat tiny individual mechanisms in the body becomes a powerful tool that should be considered for a lasting recovery from headache pain. The body’s ability to heal itself naturally is brought to the surface through chiropractic treatments that may be customized according to each patient’s needs.
Clients may have spent far too long and feel that their resources are being tapped in an effort to find a solution to their pain. It is often found that a headache is more of a side-effect of something else that is going on behind the scenes in the body. This may be due to disease, undue stress, or physical anomalies due to injury or birth conditions.
Pain signals are used by the body to alert us that something needs attention. Just exactly how immediate that attention needs to be attained will depend on each patient. An emergency room visit may only leave you with a recommendation for personalized care to address an unknown issue – or it may save your life if you have experienced a severe traumatic event. It often becomes a judgment call.
Seek medical care immediately if you experience the following conditions:
- Pain due to an injury or trauma event
- Abrupt, severe head pain
- A loss of control in the body
- Extreme, unexplained head pain, especially if sudden in nature
- New symptoms such as fever, loss of vision, physical weakness, or confusion
If pain of any kind causes you alarm, seek immediate care.
Chiropractic Techniques to Consider for Headache Pain
Tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and many other conditions that lead to pain in the head may be dramatically improved through proper chiropractic treatments. Your exact treatments can be customized to fit your brain and body. Pain that is presenting itself through a headache or migraine can be dramatically reduced – and often eliminated – through customized chiropractic treatments.
Treatments are chosen are based on the manner in which the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems are designed to function. Chiropractic physicians utilize techniques that manually locate and restore tiny miscommunications within the nerves, joints, and muscles. Even the slightest misalignments can cause the nervous system to have difficulty sending information.
Chiropractic care works to restore this important ability for the tiniest portions of the body to function. Reducing pressure hidden well within the body is important for eliminating pain symptoms. Such pressure in the body may not be as obvious as the headache that it causes. Consider these treatments when visiting with your chiropractor for headaches:
- Spinal adjustment
- Chiropractic massage therapy
- Neck, back, or shoulder treatments that may eliminate shared pain between portions of the body
- Other treatments that may help to eliminate any conditions that may be causing your headaches
Chiropractic care for headaches and migraines lends very well to what many patients wish to find in their process of healing. The fact that care can be adjusted during the recovery process becomes an important factor in long-term health. When a matter is discovered during treatment, it can often be cared for then – without having to schedule surgery and more complicated procedures.
Where to Get Care for Headaches
Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab offers 4 locations in Alaska. Visit us in Juneau, Wasilla and 2 places in Anchorage! We are happy to help act as a filter of healing and help you sift through your headache situation. You are not in this alone!
You do not have to know in advance what type of headache you are experiencing or what may be the cause. We are glad to help you work through what you need to consider to receive the best care possible for the most personalized results that science offers. Our advanced care options include combining treatments that best fit what your body needs to be well as a unit.
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About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.