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Why do I have headaches?

Headaches are the second most common complaints for doctors in the primary care setting1. Looking into all of the possible reasons for headaches can give you a headache itself. There are many different classifications of headaches differing by their location and cause. Some of the causes of headaches are muscular, vascular, neurotransmitter related, allergies, food intolerance, dehydration, low blood sugar, or concussions. Tension type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder, reported by 70% of the population2. Tension headaches are caused by trigger points (tender, painful areas in muscle) in the neck and the back of the head3. One of the primary types of treatment for tension headaches is trigger point and soft tissue therapy. Our office provides advanced therapies, such as Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique. These technique are designed to treat the portions of the soft tissue causing the headache.

Another common headache type we treat in the office is cervicogenic headaches. These are one of the most common types of headache in weight-lifting athletes4. These headaches are caused by the joints and muscles in the neck3 and refer pain to the back of the head and upper neck. Traditional chiropractic adjustments are recommended as the primary treatment approach for them3.

The goal of our treatment would be to restore normal biomechanics and alignment in the neck (cervical spine) through gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments and advanced muscle therapy to treat the effected soft tissue. The combination of adjustments with soft tissue treatment is not the standard in chiropractic care. Traditional chiropractic focuses primarily on adjustments to the neck and little to no manual therapy on the muscles.

The traditional chiropractic approach of adjustments only for these headaches is less effective because there is proof that if the muscles are not treated as well, then they will continue to be a cause of the headaches. In our office we will find the specific muscle structures that have too much tension as well as adjust the specific misaligned vertebrae. This helps us to achieve longer lasting relief in a shorter period of time that traditional chiropractic adjustments alone.

Written by:

Christopher Knapp, D.C.

Todd Rodman, D.C, C.C.S.P, C.S.C.S

  1. Chiro Essentials: Differential Diagnosis, 2nd J La Rosse, MBBS, M Med. Page 43.

  2. World Health Organization, Headache Disorders.

  3. Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor, 4th Souza, Thomas A. Pages 513-543. ©2009

  4. Rifat S.F., Moeller J.L., Diagnosis and management of headache in the weight-lifting athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep, 2003. 2(5): p. 272–5

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