From non-stop shopping to holiday parties, the stress of the season can lead to headaches. Good news: Chiropractic care may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
A 2010 report in the scientific journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies found that spinal manipulation/mobilization is effective in adults for migraine and cervicogenic headaches (headaches that come from stiff joints and tight muscles in the neck).
Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches. Patients who received one month of chiropractic care (about two visits per week) experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication. The chiropractic patients maintained their benefit even a month after the treatment was discontinued, in contrast to the patients who were being treated with the medication, whose symptoms soon returned to pretreatment status.
In addition to chiropractic care, here are some ideas to for preventing or relieving headache pain:
– 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. At rest, the upper teeth shouldn’t touch the lowers, except when swallowing. Clenching the teeth results in stress at the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ)—the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull—leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
– Drink plenty of water (or eat juicy fruits and vegetables) to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
Some types of headaches can be “triggered” by eating certain foods, so you may also want to:
– Avoid caffeine. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of the stimulant.
– Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise or abrupt
– Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.
– Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.