Everyone has experienced a headache at some point in their lives. We all know the all too familiar feelings that set in and take your day from normal and productive to wanting to hide in a dark room.
Headaches are something that affected me early in life. I experienced headaches throughout my younger years (many of which would keep me out of school), but these would typically resolve after some sleep. At the age of 15, I began experiencing migraines. This was the first time that I have ever experienced a pain that was what I would consider “debilitating”. Every day was the same- I would wake up in pain, so I would try to sleep longer. After not being able to sleep, I would drag myself out of bed to start what I knew would be a miserable day. Before long, nausea would set in and it would be back to bed, hiding under the covers and trying to avoid the world.
Where I Started My Search For Relief
Having this level of discomfort prompted me (with the assistance of my mother) to seek help. We were off to my primary care physician who at this point was my pediatrician. She ordered a CT scan to make sure that nothing serious was wrong and thankfully, nothing “serious” showed up. She decided that a muscle relaxer and pain medication was a good place to start, as well as some physical therapy.
Unfortunately, the pain medication and muscle relaxers didn’t do anything and physical therapy fell short as well. I also received massage therapy during this time but nothing helped… at all. We went back to the doctor and we were essentially told that a higher dose of pain medication was our next option. Again, this intervention failed. At this point, I became pretty hopeless. I wasn’t able to do ANYTHING that I wanted to at 15. No playing outside, no hanging out with friends, no working out. My world got much smaller and was outlined by the four walls of my bedroom.
Traditional Medicine Was not Working
A lack of results from “traditional” treatment lead me to seek help from a chiropractor upon recommendation from a family member. At this point, I assumed that all hope was lost and that this would be another dead end.
We arrived at the office and the doctor did his consultation and examination. X-rays were taken and revealed that I had some structural issues in my neck, which the chiropractor related to the migraines that I was experiencing. Treatment began that day. Within two weeks, I had almost 100% resolution of symptoms. I had my life back.
How did chiropractic care help take my migraines away when everything else failed, even medicine?
Simple- none of the other treatment options addressed the underlying cause of the issues I was having. The brain of persons with migraines tend to be hyperexcitable which can predispose the person to these debilitating episodes. Additonaly, migraines and headaches have multiple triggers, many of which can be related back to the muscles and joints of the cervical spine (neck) as well as the upper and midback. At this point in my life, I was spending a large amount of time looking down. Cell phones were becoming popular and I was in school looking at books and sitting with terrible posture. My daily activities were setting me up for failure when it came to my neuromusculoskeletal health.
Unfortunately, many people attempt to treat migraines and headaches with abortive techniques, such as over the counter or prescription medications (all of which have their own list of side effects). Overuse of these medications may generate a chronic “rebound” cycle of migraines, however, and the American Headache Society actually discourages prescription opiods for recurring headaches.
Spinal manipulation is thought to reduce pain though many mechanisms including activation of the central nervous system, disruption of the pain-muscle spasm- pain cycle, reduction of mechanical triggers like tight muscles and poor joint mechanics, and elevated endorphin levels. Research shows that spinal manipulation has a positive effect on reduction of migraine intensity as well as frequency of attacks. Even more, side effects and risks of spinal manipulation are very low and no chemical alterations of your body are required with this form of treatment.
Once I experienced the benefits of chiropractic care, I knew that one day, I would do the same thing for others. Having been through the debilitating discomfort of migraines and headaches throughout much of my childhood, I know first hand how terrible it is to live with these conditions. The good news is….. like me, you may not have to!
We have excellent success with migraines and headaches in our office. Understanding the cause of the issue is important and we utilize a thorough diagnostic strategy to determine what course of action to take. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, we utilize soft tissue treatments and corrective exercises to restore normal posture and function to the upper back and neck, effectively addressing the underlying causes of the pain, not just masking it. If you or someone you know is having headaches or migraines, be smart and try chiropractic care. Medications have their place, but not before you try to fix the problem first.