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Evidence suggests that chiropractic may play a significant role in headache management. In fact, in a new study, 72% of migraine sufferers experienced improvement after chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic care, which involves several different areas of treatment, can be used to reduce underlying muscle tension, alleviate pain and symptoms and create a headache prevention plan. Today we’ll go in depth on how chiropractic care can help with headaches.
1. Spinal manipulation
Spinal manipulation is one of the most common chiropractic treatments, which can help in headache relief. This treatment involves applying gentle force to a specific section of your spine.
The idea behind spinal manipulation is to “realign” your musculoskeletal system so that any pain caused by tension or torsion is easily removed from the equation. Recent studies show that spinal manipulation has a significant impact on migraine sufferers, especially those who reported high stress levels.
2. Neck flexion exercises
A common underlying problem for headaches is neck tension. A chiropractor may also use neck flexion exercises to move your muscles and joints in the neck region to get tension release and put your neck muscles in a more stable, natural position.
Neck flexion exercises are especially important since 64% of migraine sufferers report neck pain or stiffness before or during a migraine. Depending on the type of migraine, neck flexion exercises can both relieve pain and prevent future headaches.
3. Cervical joint mobilization
Similar to neck flexion exercises, cervical joint manipulation is a chiropractic technique for moving joints to improve mobility and reduce pain. For headaches, this often involves moving the cervical spine (the part of the section running along your neck). This kind of mobilization is used to realign the spinal system to make sure that pressure and stiffness, due to misalignment, isn’t contributing to headaches.
4. Neuromuscular massage
Massage is another chiropractic technique to help relieve muscular tension in the back, shoulder, neck and head. Neuromuscular massage focuses on points that typically cause pain and tries to relax the muscles and have you feeling loose. More than anything, neuromuscular massage is often combined with other techniques so that chiropractic adjustments better “hold” in the body.
5. Physical therapy exercises
An expert chiropractor will also recommend exercises that you can do in the comfort of your home. First, he/she will show you how to perform these stretches and then ask you to do them on a regular basis. Oftentimes, these physical therapy exercises are used to maintain the tension relief from an adjustment and make sure you pay attention to how you move and stretch outside the doctor’s office.
6. Stress management
A key part of headache prevention is stress management. A chiropractor will help create you create a plan for reducing stress, including massage therapy, daily stress tips and office strategies. In particular, he/she will make sure that you’re making time for breaks, have a comfortable workstation and sleeping area, and apply meditation techniques. General speaking, stress is one of the most common triggers for headaches. By thinking about stress beforehand, you’ll have a better chance of preventing your next headache.
7. Diet and exercise
Finally, a chiropractor will put together a diet and exercise plan to make sure that your headaches aren’t being triggered by common dietary choices or a lack of activity. He/she will often suggest you follow an anti-inflammatory diet, which consists of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, fish and olive oil.
You should also cut out processed foods, which are often triggers for headaches. In addition, staying active is a key aspect of preventing headaches. Regular aerobic exercise can help keep your muscles loose and avoid stiffness and tension.
Preparing for your first chiropractic appointment
At the end of the day, a chiropractor will most likely use a combination of these seven techniques and treatments detailed above. Sometimes it’s hard to know the exact reasons contributing to your headaches. To cover all the bases, a chiropractor will use all these areas to formulate a plan so that you can be sure you’re doing everything possible to prevent future headaches.
Before you have your first chiropractic appointment, it’s important that you keep track of your headache symptoms, potential triggers and even your diet. Keep a headache journal of your pain that you can bring to the chiropractor to discuss possible triggers. This kind of information is essential for a chiropractor to better diagnose and understand your headaches.
In addition, do your research to find a professional chiropractic clinic near you. A professional chiropractor, such as our chiropractors in Better Health in Juneau, will offer these treatments listed above, among others. It’s a good idea to find a chiropractor that you trust and that offers massage therapy as well as chiropractic adjustments.
By consulting a chiropractor for your headaches, you’ll get the lasting pain relief you deserve and prevent headaches in the future. With consistent chiropractic sessions, you’re sure to see positive results.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
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