There are many types of headaches, and some are very amenable to chiropractic treatment!
Headaches can be a sign of an underlying condition, so our chiropractors first take a thorough history for any patient presenting with a headache. Questions like “do you have any dizziness” and “do you have any numbness” can help the chiropractor determine if the headache might warrant further investigation from an MD or a referral to the emergency room. A complete neurological exam is always performed, including cranial nerves. Cranial nerve testing, and motor/sensory testing can help rule out more sinister causes of headache.
Once more serious causes are ruled out, our Calgary chiropractors look for causes that they are able to help. Often times, patients present with tension headaches, where upper back and neck muscles are causing referral pain into the head. Treatment on these muscles can include active release techniques, class 4 laser, and joint mobilizations. Treatment usually provides immediate relief, and patients are often headache-free at the completion of treatment. For more chronic headaches, several treatments may be required to reduce the scar tissue in the muscles and reduce the risk of future headaches.
Migraines are another type of headache that our Calgary Chiropractors often treat. Everyone’s migraine symptoms are different, and some less common symptoms mimic the onset of a stroke. For this reason, all of the testing mentioned above is performed before proceeding with treatment. Migraines often cause tension in the sub occipitals, so patients end up with a tension headache on top of their migraine pain. Migraines can also cause visual disturbances called visual auras, as well as numbness, and difficulty with speech. If these symptoms are happening for the first time, the patient is sent to the hospital for further testing.
Acupuncture can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. Several of our chiropractors are trained in acupuncture, and can use thin, single use needles to activate specific points on the body that help with headaches. Eastern medicine suggests the blockage of Chi as the cause for these issues, while western medicine also encourages acupuncture for migraines, but points to hormone regulation as the method of action. Either way, acupuncture can be a very effective treatment with both migraines and tension headaches.
Lifestyle changes often help prevent future headaches. Poor posture, stress, and dehydration all cause headaches to some degree.