If you have a headache, you're not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.
Headaches have many causes, or "triggers." These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by serious physical problems. Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
How Can Headaches Be Prevented?
Muscle-tension headaches can often be avoided by maintaining proper posture and neck movements while performing your normal activities. You should:
* Avoid slouching
* Keep your computer monitor at eye level
* If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, at a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to an hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
* Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This 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 at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
* Avoid food triggers such as caffeine, foods with high salt or sugar content, alcoholic beverages, high-protein foods, dairy products, and red meat.
What Can A Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways - not just back pain. They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems.
After a thorough examination, which may include the taking of x-rays, to determine the cause of your headaches, Dr. Petersen will discuss the best course of treatment which may include one or more of the following:
* Perform chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate stress on your system.
* Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of nutritional supplements
* Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques.
If you have any questions or concerns about headaches feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Petersen to discuss them.