Millions of Americans experience headaches each day. Although there are many causes of head pain, some requiring immediate medical attention, the majority of all headaches fall into two categories: migraine headaches and tension headaches.
Migraine headaches are known to be the more severe of the two. Migraines affect more women than men; are usually preceded by an “aura” which can come in the form of altered vision and hearing; can last for more than a day; can be triggered by certain environmental stimuli; and can be accompanied by nausea and photophobia (fear of light). Despite millions of dollars of research, discovering the cause of migraines has remained elusive, as has the treatment. However, recent studies suggest that some cases of migraines may be the result of a patent ovale foramen, or POF. This is a congenital heart deformity that allows carbon monoxide gas to back up into the brain, triggering the migraine.
Tension type headaches are usually described as a tightening band around the head and base of neck, and are of shorter duration. Some studies suggest that tension headaches are related to structural abnormalities in the cervical spine (neck). Nerve roots branch out from between the cervical vertebrae and control muscular contraction around the head, jaw and neck. If the vertebrae are out of position, they may place mild pressure on these nerves, causing them to increase muscle contraction.
Chiropractic treatment for headaches typically include a cervical spine x-ray. Chiropractic treatment may include chiropractic spinal adjustments, manual therapy, exercises, neck traction, and electrical stimulation.