At one time or another we’ve all experienced throbbing or stabbing pains in our heads. Because the head controls the rest of the body, nothing else can get your attention quite so immediately or completely. If there were only one cause of headaches the treatment would be a lot easier. However, headaches come in many different shapes and sizes, and the causes can be equally complex. There is no one simple answer.
Headaches can be triggered by physical or emotional stress, toxic fumes, certain foods, preservatives, alcohol, bright light, trauma, hormonal changes, too much or too little sleep, allergies, or blood pressure to name just a few causes. Another frequently overlooked cause of headaches is misaligned spinal bones in the neck and upper back. When spinal bones lose their normal position and motion, delicate nerves and blood vessels to the head can be affected.
One thing is certain. A recurring headache is a sign that something is wrong. While pain-relievers like aspirin may temporarily ease discomfort, they also mask the symptoms. They do nothing to correct the source of the problem. And while the problem remains, the headaches will come back… again and again.
It is time to stop masking the symptoms of a headache and time to start treating them at their source. Natural headache relief is all about understanding the underlying structures of the head and neck. Tight neck and shoulder musculature can trigger headaches. Tension headache treatment at a chiropractic center can be simple, and relaxing. It will also offer instant relief from your chronic tension headache. Remember, your treatment for headaches does not have to be chemical. Give Schilsky Chiropractic Center a chance to show you what our chiropractic treatments can do for your headaches.
Tension headache sufferers report dull, steady pain on one or both sides of the head and often a feeling of vice-like tightness. Typically, these headaches begin with physical or mental stress that causes contractions of muscles in the neck, back, and head. These prolonged contractions rob the muscles of oxygen, making them release chemicals that transmit “referred” pain signals to the brain.
So many seemly innocent things can trigger a tension headache, it’s often hard to pinpoint the cause. Emotional stress from a job, home, or relationship can cause muscle tension. Sitting for long periods hunched over a desk or computer, gripping a telephone between the shoulder and ear, driving in heavy traffic or bad weather, adjusting to new lenses in glasses – all these things can cause muscles to tighten in the neck and back.
Physical stress from pain in another part of the body, often spinal problems, can also cause chronic muscle contractions leading to tension headaches.
These headaches caused by problems within the cervical (neck) spine are felt in the back, sides and front of the head or the front of the face or neck. Changes in the normal curvature of the neck caused by trauma, degenerative arthritis, or poor posture can cause chronic irritation to vertebral nerve roots. The onset of pain is sudden or acute, and may also cause muscle tension in the neck bringing on tension headaches as well.
Avoid Headache Triggers
- Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
- Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
- Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
- Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
- Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.
- Headache can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
- Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.