It’s 2:00pm on a busy afternoon at the hospital. Jenny, a nurse, is starting to feel run down. She got to work at 5:00am and doesn’t get off until 5:00pm. Her shoulders get tired, her head gets heavy and then her worst fear is about to begin—a migraine. All of a sudden the lights seem to get brighter, the noise at work seems to get louder and with every passing second the stabbing pain in her head gets worse. She knows when these headaches set in she is unable to be at her best. Jenny has dealt with these types of headaches for years and knows when work is stressful her migraines are triggered. She goes on with her day and just deals with her pain thinking, “this is just part of me now.”
Have you or anybody else you’ve known suffered with headaches like this? Have you surrendered to the idea that, “this must be normal”?
Why do we have headaches?
There are 14 difference classifications of headaches and within those classifications are well over 100 different types of headaches. With such a wide variety of headaches the possibilities of why headaches occur are endless. However, the pain of a headache can be described simply: when the body is experiencing damage or has the potential of being damaged the pain signal will be sent off. One of the brain’s primary goals is to warn the body of real or potential harm. Headaches behave in the same way. If you accidently take too much medication you will likely experience a headache. If you don’t get enough sleep and your body is running low on energy, your likelihood of experiencing a headache goes up. If you have an infection and it causes swelling in the brain: headache. Long story made short: a headache is your brain’s way of telling you something is wrong.
So let’s talk about the type of headache we consistently deal with as chiropractors: Migraines.
Chiropractic and Migraines
Migraines are some of the most prevalent headaches worldwide. Based on conservative estimates there are over 38 million migraine sufferers in the United States alone. Migraines can be infrequent to daily and range from mild to severe in intensity. Some sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and may even miss out on work or social activities due to the pain. With this being such a widespread problem, can anything be done for them?
Migraines can be triggered by a variety of sources, but we will focus on one particular type. Many migraine sufferers can be triggered by stress (such was the case of our hospital nurse). Her headaches were triggered by the increased stress at work and the weight on her shoulders to care for others around her. These types of headaches usually occur when the joints and muscles in our upper back and neck gradually become tight and painful. These tight areas then cause your brain to sense a problem in your head and neck and therefore send off the pain signal.
Since the main source of the pain is coming from the tightness in the joints and muscles chiropractic can have a dramatic effect on symptom relief and resolution. Chiropractors find the joints that are not working properly and help to restore them to proper function. This, in turn, signals to the brain that there is no longer a threat of damage and the headaches start to resolve.
There are many studies that show the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for the aforementioned types of headaches. So if you or anybody else you know has suffered with migraines in the past let them know there may be a solution in chiropractic.