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Chiropractic Care for Patients with Headaches

16 Oct

Though there are many different types of headaches, many involve both the upper cervical region (the neck) and the head. Between the muscles that attach to the head and neck, the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together, the blood vessels that allow blood to flow to and from the head, and the nerves that allow us to smell, taste, see, smile, wink, stick out our tongue, and so much more, it’s no wonder that the neck is intimately related to the head and therefore headaches.

One structure that sheds additional light on this close relationship between the neck and headaches is called the “myodural bridge” (MDB), which spans between a muscle in the back of the neck called the rectus capitus posterior minor and the protective covering of the spinal cord called the dura mater. This connection sits in close proximity to the vertebral artery, veins, and the first cervical nerve or C1 (the occipital nerve).

So how does this MDB cause headaches? Normally when we move our head and neck, the muscle contraction puts tension on the MDB, transmitting its force to tense up the dura, stabilizing the spinal cord. This prevents infolding of the dura, which can generate pain in the form of a headache.

When an injury such as whiplash occurs, cervical vertebral joint dysfunction and overly tight muscles in this area transmit abnormal tension to the dura mater via the MDB, which (like infolding) can result in headaches. If the injured muscle/s weaken or atrophy, this can further compromise the function of the MDB, leading to chronic (long-term) headaches.

A common symptom of an MDB headache is a throbbing pain, usually on one side of head near the ear/temple area and possibly behind the eye. The headache may last from several minutes to several days and the base of the head is tender to the touch. Typically, head movements intensify the pain/headache and neck pain may or may not be present.

Research shows that chiropractic manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and exercise can significantly benefit patients with headaches, regardless of the cause. But it is easy to understand that treatment directed to this region is necessary to restore function, and discovery of this MDB may play an important role as to why chiropractic care is so effective for headache patients.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

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Chiropractic Care and Migraine Headaches

17 Aug

Migraines affect approximately 15% of the general population and are usually managed by medication. However, this traditional treatment approach is not well tolerated by some migraine sufferers due to side effects. Additionally, some people prefer to avoid the risks associated with taking some medications over the long term.

A systematic literature review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving the use of manual therapies to treat migraines found that chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is equally as effective as the medications propranolol and topiramate in the management of such headaches.

One case report featured the successful outcome of a 24-year-old pregnant female who had a history of migraine headaches starting at age twelve. She had previously tried other forms of care including osteopathy, physical therapy, massage therapy, and medication including a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory with codeine. Due to her pregnancy, she turned to chiropractic care in hopes of achieving relief without the use of medications. The application of spinal manipulative therapy along with other manual therapies led to a satisfying outcome which allowed her to cease using her medication.

Another case study featured a 72-year-old woman with a 60-year history of migraine headaches that included nausea, vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity), and phonophobia (noise sensitivity). Prior to treatment, the patient averaged one to two migraines per week, which lasted one to three days in duration. Following a course of chiropractic care, her headaches resolved completely, which eliminated the need for any migraine medication. A follow-up seven years later confirmed her continued migraine-free status.

In a case involving a 49-year-old female patient suffering from migraine headaches following a car accident, a twelve-week course of chiropractic care utilizing SMT along with both active and other passive therapies led to significant improvements in the patient’s migraine-related disability and pain.

In another case, a 17-year-old boy fell on his head while pole vaulting and began to experience bipolar disorder symptoms, seizures, sleeping problems, and migraine headaches. After failing to respond to various treatment approaches from numerous physicians, he sought treatment from a doctor of chiropractic at age 23. After four months of chiropractic care, his migraine frequency dropped from three times a week to twice a month. He reported a full recovery after seven months of care, which was sustained at an 18-month follow-up.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

Chiropractic Care and Headaches

17 Jul

The cervical spine is often implicated in the onset and/or presence of headaches. This is due in part to the first three cervical nerve roots exiting out of the spine and enter the back of the head through a particularly thick group of muscles attached to the base of the skull along the nuchal ridge.

Anything that tightens up the upper cervical musculature can give rise to headache, and certainly stress has the unique characteristic of increasing neck muscle tension. Cervicogenic headache and tension-type headache are the two most commonly used terms associated with neck dysfunction.  Migraine headaches are a vascular type of headache, and these too can be greatly helped by spinal manipulation of the upper cervical region, though the mechanism of how this helps is less understood.

When patients see a chiropractor to treat their headaches, the paperwork they complete may include questionnaires regarding how their headaches impact both their wellbeing and their day-to-day activities. This data can be used to monitor a patient’s progress over time. Similarly, patients may be asked for data at each visit regarding the frequency, intensity, and duration of their headaches since their last visit in order to determine if a new approach to treatment should be considered.

Chiropractic offers multiple types of treatments with the goal of reducing neck and headache pain, restoring function to the vertebrae in the cervical spine—especially in the upper cervical region—and teaching the patient preventative methods of self-management such as exercises, ice and/or heat, and dietary modifications.

Because chiropractic includes an evaluation of the entire musculoskeletal system, a doctor of chiropractic may spot biomechanical faults lower in the body that may play a role in the headache process. A good example of this is a flat foot with ankle pronation, which creates a knocked-kneed effect and a drop in the pelvis on the same side. This can affect the curvature of the spine, causing stability issues up into the neck. In this case, prescriptive foot orthotics to correct the ankle pronation problem and/or a heel lift to correct a short leg can have dramatic benefits for headache sufferers, not to mention other spinal complaints such as low back pain.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Chiropractic for Neck Pain?… Really?

15 May

There have been MANY studies conducted on the benefits and efficacy of spinal manipulation to treat back pain—so much so that many medical doctors frequently refer patients with back pain to chiropractors for this service. But what about neck pain?

Although it’s taken a little longer to compile the evidence, there is now substantial research to support that spinal manipulation for neck pain is equally effective as it is for low back pain in regards to improving pain levels, function, and quality of life.

Multiple reviews and meta-analyses (studies that evaluate the research over a series of years) indicate that mobilization, manipulation, and exercise all work alone but appear to give the best long-term benefits when used in combination with each other.

In the acute and subacute stages of neck pain, studies show cervical manipulation is more effective than various combinations of analgesics, muscle relaxants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for improving pain and function in both the short and intermediate term.

Studies show that thoracic or mid-back manipulation is also very helpful for patients with neck pain. Chiropractic approaches often include a combination of spinal manipulation, manual cervical traction, figure-8 mobilization, and deep tissue trigger point/active release forms of therapy.

As noted above, the inclusion of exercise yields the best long-term benefits, especially for chronic neck pain.

One such exercise is Cranio-cervical flexion (deep neck flexor strengthening): Tuck the chin inwards, pushing the mid part of the neck backward with or without resisting into your fingers/hands or a towel wrapped around the neck. A gradual crescendo of pressure followed by a gradual release (or decrescendo) works well!

Another great exercise is Fiber Stretching: Side-bend the head and neck while applying gentle over-pressure while simultaneously reaching downward with the opposite arm/hand, searching for tight muscle fibers. Try combining forward and backward rotations and chin glide head movements while applying the over-pressure/reach combinations, and work each tight fiber until it loosens up.

There are many other exercises your doctor of chiropractic can show you, but these are a great start!

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

When Teenagers Get Headaches…

17 Apr

In 2016, researchers at Curtin University in Perth examined the seated posture and health data of 1,108 17-year olds in an effort to determine if any particular posture increased the risk of headaches/neck pain among late adolescents.

Among four posture subgroups—upright, intermediate, slumped thorax, and forward head—the researchers observed the following: participants who were slumped in their thoracic spine (mid-back region) and had their head forward when they sat were at higher odds of having mild, moderate, or severe depression; participants classified as having a more upright posture exercised more frequently, females were more likely to sit more upright than males; those who were overweight were more likely to sit with a forward neck posture; and taller people were more likely to sit upright.

While they found biopsychosocial factors like exercise frequency, depression, and body mass index (BMI) ARE associated with headaches and neck pain, their data did not suggest any one particular posture increased the risk of neck pain or headaches more than any other posture among the teenagers involved in the study.

This is noteworthy as studies with adults do indicate the risk for neck pain and headaches is greater in individuals with poor neck posture. In particular, postures such as forward head carriage, pinching a phone between the ear and shoulder, and prolonged neck/head rotation outside of neutral can all increase the risk of cervical disorders. This suggests that in younger bodies, the cause of neck pain and headaches may be multifactoral and not limited to just poor posture and that treatment must address all issues that may increase one’s risk for neck pain/headaches in order to reach a desired outcome.

The good news is that chiropractic has long embraced the biopsychosocial model of healthcare, looking at ALL factors that affect back and neck pain and quality of life. Through patient education, spinal manipulation, mobilization, exercise training, the use of modalities, and more, chiropractors can greatly help those struggling with neck pain and headaches!

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055
Member of Chiro-Trust.org

What Is Cervical Spondylosis?

16 Feb

Cervical spondylosis (CS) is another term for osteoarthritis (OA) of the neck. It is a common, age-related condition that you will probably develop if you live long enough. Or, if you suffered a neck injury as a youth, it can develop within five to ten years of the injury, depending on the severity.

It is basically caused by the “wear and tear” associated with normal daily living to which some refer to as “the natural history of degeneration.” According to the Mayo Clinic, CS or OA affects more than 85% of people over 60 years old, and that is probably a conservative estimate!

Common symptoms associated with CS/OA vary widely from no symptoms whatsoever to debilitating pain and stiffness. For example, when CS crowds the holes through which the nerves and/or spinal cord travel, it creates a condition called spinal stenosis that can result in numbness, tingling, and/or weakness. In severe cases, this can even affect bowel or bladder control (which is an EMERGENCY)!

CS occurs when the normal slippery, shiny cartilage surfaces of the joint(s) gradually thin and eventually wear away from excessive friction caused by years of repetitive use related to a job, sport, or just time. Bone spurs often form, which results from the body trying to stabilize an unstable joint. In some cases, the spurs can actually fuse a joint, which often helps reduce pain. (Bone spurs can also form if the intervertebral disks or shock-absorbing pads between the vertebrae are injured or become dehydrated due to arthritic conditions.)

Risk factors associated with CS include: aging, injury, years of heavy lift/carry job demands, and jobs and/or hobbies that require the neck to be outside of a neutral position (like years of pinching a phone between the ear and shoulder). Genetics and bad habits (like smoking) also play a role in CS. Obesity and inactivity also worsens the severity of CS symptoms.

The good news is that even though most of us will have CS, it is usually NOT a disabling condition. However, CS may interfere with our normal activities. Depending on its location, pain may feel worse in certain positions, like when sneezing or coughing or with movements like rotation or looking upwards.

Stiffness is a common symptom, which can vary with weather changes. Too little as well as too much activity can be a problem, but the BEST way to self-manage CS is to keep active! Range of motion exercises, strength training, and walking all help reduce the symptoms of CS.

Doctors of chiropractic are trained to identify CS/OA. Gentle manipulation, mobilization, nutritional counseling, exercise training, modalities (and more) can REALLY HELP!

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org