There are those who suffer with headaches all the time and there are those that never get them. However there are many people who suffer with headaches as part of their everyday life. Are you one of them? Headaches can be a symptom of many different conditions and therefore many people are afraid that they could have something more serious. There are many types of headaches for example; migraine, cluster headaches and tension headaches. The last type is the most common form of headache which chiropractic is also the most effective at treating.


Tension Headaches

Tension headaches make up 90% of all headaches. One will often experience a mild, achy pain rather than severe pain. Most of us have experienced this type of headache some time in our lives. Mostly adults have this type of headache but even children can get it. The intensity of the pain is often mild, but it can be so intense that one cannot even go to work or carry out normal daily activities.

This type of headache often feels like a pressure or a band around the head. The cause of this type of headache is often spasm or tightness in the muscles surrounding the skull, or where the muscles attach onto bone such as at the base of the skull, neck, shoulder blade or jaw. However there are many different reasons why we get tension headaches.

Stress causes the body to become ready for action so that it can get away quickly from a dangerous or disadvantageous situation. The muscles become tense in order to prepare the body to flee the situation. Episodic tension headaches are common and one can have them for a few hours, however you can also develop chronic tension headaches which can prevent you from living a normal life.

There are many different reasons for tension headaches:

  • Wrong posture
  • Incorrect work station/table
  • Repetitive work position
  • Wrong sleep position – stomach sleeping
  • Not enough sleep
  • Negative feelings / stress
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low intake of water
  • Whiplash
  • Teeth grinding
  • Visual strain
  • Nutritional imbalance


These are all common benign conditions that are easily recognised and treated.

Treatment of Tension Headaches
Many take pain medication to help with their headaches however this does not get to the root of the problem or solve the reason why you are getting the headache in the first place. There is often stiffness or locking of the joints in the neck and muscle tightness which need to be helped in order to clear the headache. Your chiropractor can improve the motion of the joints and help the muscles which will help minimise the tension headaches and prevent them coming back.

They will also advice you on:

  • Better posture
  • Work station; position of chair, desk, computer height etc
  • Pillow
  • How often one should pause during work
  • Easy exercises and stretches you can do at home or at work
  • Advice on: headset instead of holding a telephone with shoulder.
  • Stress / relaxation
  • Walking


Joint problems can seldom be prevented. We can develop joint problems as a result of earlier injuries or trauma or through our work which is repetitive and can be the cause of tension and bad posture. All these things can lead to the development of joints that become dysfunctional and restricted. A chiropractor helps these areas by adjusting the joints through specific manipulative techniques and by reducing muscle tension through trigger point therapy. By releasing joint stiffness and improving the motion in the spine we can also have less muscle tension and overall less stress on the body. This can prevent acute and chronic problems of the spine which often lead to headaches and dizziness.

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Chiropractors will also check and advice you on stretches to help short muscles. Improving the movement in the joints also helps the blood circulation which minimises irritation, inflammation and pain.

It is also important that one checks the low back and pelvis to make sure that the stiffness or problems in the neck or shoulders is not coming from a problem lower down.

The first step to resolving the problem is finding out why you get the headaches. It could be that you had a car accident or that you sit in the wrong position at work. It is always important to listen to your body’s signals in order to stay healthy. We must remember that pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Pain is never ‘normal’ and we should never ignore it. Resolving the problem is fortunately often simple and the problem can often completely resolve or be reduced with the right help. It is important to be aware that headaches can also be the first signal that there is an underlying illness which needs further investigating.

Don’t hesitate to contact your chiropractor at KiropraktorCentrum if you are suffering from stiffness or headaches. Maybe you have never been to a chiropractor, in which case we can help you discover why you are getting headaches and help you get rid of them.


FAQ’s

To get rid of difficult headaches can sometimes be as easy as taking a walk, breathing some fresh air, drinking water or resting. But not always, often we don’t know why or where the headaches come from and therefore nothing we do can help it.

Another reason we can get headaches is from the muscles around the jaw joint (TMJ) which is often forgotten about. Those who grind their teeth often have a problem with muscular tension and stiffness in the neck and jaw which can all cause tension headaches. Chiropractors treat all the body's joints and the jaw is one of them. We can check the movement and function of the jaw and the muscles that attach around the jaw. It is also important to check the neck and shoulders as often those with problems of the jaw joint have problems in the neck and shoulders.


Unfortunately there are some who have both tension headaches and migraines. Migraines are often harder to resolve with chiropractic care as they can be hormone related, circulation related or for other reasons. However, tension headaches are one of the many conditions that chiropractic is great at treating.


The spine is not always the cause. Other causes of headaches include emotional stress, car accidents or trauma and chemical toxins as well as a combination of these.

  1. Boline P, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson A. (1995). Spinal Manipulation vs Amitriptyline for the Treatment of Chronic Tension-Type Headaches. JMPT 18: 148-154.
  2. Nilsson N, Christensen HW et al. (1997). The Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache. JMPT 20 (5): 326-330.
  3. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. (2000). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Migraine. Journal Manipulative Physiological Therapies (JMPT) 23 (2):91-95.
  4. 2004. Dose Response for Chiropractic Care of Chronic Cervicogenic Headache and Associated Neck Pain: A Randomised Pilot Study. JMPT Nov 27 (9): 547-553.
  5. 2002. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise and Manipulative Therapy for Cervicogenic Headache. Spine Sept 27 (17): 1835-1843.
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