If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of 10 Australians suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Take some Nurofen or Panadol and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.
Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by Chiropractors – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
Most primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, many Australians engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
What Can You Do?
Chiropractors recommend the following suggestions to prevent headaches:
If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
Your Chiropractor may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
- Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your nervous system. Other techniques such as massage, dry needling and others may be employed to assist the spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments.
- Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
- Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
Towards Wellness: New Skills
As well as the obvious physical benefits, learning a new skill has great mental benefits too. It’s always good to keep your body and brain guessing. Try new activities; there are opportunities everywhere to learn new skills from athletics to yoga or the less traditional forms of exercise such as rock climbing, boxing, rowing or canoeing.
Stretch of the Month: Front of thigh
Stand near a wall, bench or a post and put one hand on it for balance. Grasp your ankle or foot with the other hand. Keep your upper body straight and pull your heel up towards your buttock. The knee of the leg you are bending should point towards the ground. If you are able to touch your buttock with the heel of the foot, gently extend the hip by moving the knee backwards. You should feel this stretch through the front of the leg above the knee.