gsc-headacheHeadaches are one of the most common medical conditions, with almost everyone experiencing them occasionally, especially the office workers stressing in the Sydney CBD. Some people experience frequent, recurring, or chronic headaches. Headache pain ranges from slight discomfort to debilitating pain, and may last for minutes or days to possibly even months and years.  Headaches of a debilitating condition can profoundly affect the quality of life in an everyday individual. They are a common ailment affecting around 65% of the population in one form or another, and are frequently caused by whiplash, joint or muscular dysfunction in the neck, poor posture, stress, and increases in tension.

 

What Causes Headaches?

The most common cause of headache is cervico-genic headache, which means originating from the neck and its structures.  The cervical spine—the seven vertebrae of the neck—contributes to a large percentage of headaches.  The nerves in the cervical vertebrae are closely associated with the main nerves in the head that are involved with pain. Tight neck muscles and/or joints that are not moving freely lead to congestion and inflammation that can cause headaches. Tense muscles in the neck and head can also release chemicals that may trigger headaches.  Other causes may be eye strain, sinusitis, dental or jaw/TMJ problems (check out Jaw Pain), alcohol/medication/dehydration, illness, and very rarely serious medical conditions.  It is important to have your headaches comprehensively assessed to determine the nature and type of Headache that you have – there are over 150 different types of headache.  Through a thorough evaluation, the George St Team are able to identify the cause of your headaches. Our Chiropractic practitioners are all fully trained to accurately assess, diagnose and treat headache and migraines.

What Types of Headaches Can Be Treated?

Tension headaches are very common, affecting 35 to 40 percent of adults with females being four times more affected than men. These headaches usually stem from increased muscle tension at the base of the skull or in the neck (Check out Neck Pain) and shoulders.

Migraines are severe recurrent headaches that are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as visual disturbances or nausea. They affect about 15 percent of the population and are often accompanied by neck pain.

Treatment

George St Chiropractic’s treatment for headaches usually involves a lot of massage of the muscles of the neck and upper spine and/or gentle manipulation/mobilisations of the joints. Chiropractic manipulation and mobilisation techniques for headaches are designed to improve joint mobility, especially in the cervical spine, and to reduce nerve irritation and muscle tension. The goals are to free-up the neck muscles and supporting ligaments, relax muscle spasms, and promote free movement of the musculoskeletal system to improve blood flow and drainage to and from the head and neck. It is also important to assess the rest of the spine and the mechanics of the jaw/TMJ to ensure that the altered mechanics and stresses are not contributing to the headaches. In the occasional case of the headache being caused or aggravated by the jaw (TMJ) mechanics, we will use soft tissue therapy, mobilization, and exercises to address this issue. However, sometimes a dental splint may be required. We may advise the patient on posture, exercise, strengthening and stretching, diet, stress management, techniques for lifting, and workplace ergonomics to prevent future headaches.  You will have a personalised treatment plan that will give you the best chance of success.*

Chronic or recurrent headaches can be readily resolved if all the factors that are contributing to the problem are identified and addressed. Both Dr. Steve Crome and Dr. James Kerr specialise in the treatment of headache and are local to all in the Sydney CBD.

* A study in 2013 indicated that cervical manipulation and mobilization with cervico-scapular strengthening was most effective for decreasing pain outcomes.

References

Racicki, Stephanie; Gerwin, Sarah; DiClaudio, Stacy; Reinmann, Samuel; Donaldson, Megan (2013). Conservative physical therapy management for the treatment of cervicogenic headache: a systematic review. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, Volume 21, Number 2, 2013 , pp. 113-124(12).

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