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How Does Chiropractic Care Help Headaches?

Most everyone at some point in their life will experience headache pain. Headaches can present themselves in different ways. Some are mild with symptoms of a dull ache, others can be more severe where a patient has throbbing pain accompanied by nausea.


When you feel a headache coming on, medication might be your first thought as a way to relieve the pain. But if you want a more holistic approach, or if you don't tolerate certain medications well, a chiropractor could be a good solution.


A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that "spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications."


Understanding Headaches

The location of the headache and the kind of pain you’re feeling are a good indication of the type of headache you have. According to Stanford Health Care there are 4 primary headaches:


Tension Headaches

These are the most common type of headache, and affect approximately 75% of all headache sufferers. Most people describe a tension headache as a constant dull, achy feeling. They can be on one side or both sides of the head with pain around the head or behind the eyes.


A tension headache happens when the muscles in the back of the neck tighten up for an extended period. This puts pressure on the nerves near the top of your spine that control movement and sensation in parts of your upper body like your shoulders, neck and arms. Other causes of a tension headache can be a cold, sinus infection, eyestrain, too much caffeine, or alcohol consumption.


Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are more severe and debilitating. According to Allergan, in 2018 more than 2.7 million Canadians suffered from migraines and over 80% of chronic migraine sufferers are Women. Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They are often chronic and can last from as little as a few hours to as long as a few days.


Migraine headaches are caused by a constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of blood vessels. Once the blood vessels dilate, there is a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. It is this increased pressure that leads to the pounding headache.​



Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are another type of headache which typically has a very short duration. The duration is short but the pain is excruciating. These headaches are usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. Unlike migraines they are more common in men. This is the only type of headache that tends to occur at night.​


Hypnic Headache

Hypnic headaches are rare and normally occur in people between the ages of 40 and 80. It is unique in that it is a headache that occurs only at night, typically lasting between 15 and 60 minutes. The headache tends to be global, not just one sided.


How Does Chiropractic Care Help Headaches?

According to the American Chiropractic Association, spinal manipulation is an effective headache treatment option for many people who suffer from headaches.


At Couve Health our team will assess, diagnose and help you mitigate and manage your headaches. In addition to spinal manipulation, there is evidence that suggests other therapies that fall under chiropractic care can reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches. These treatments include:

  • Manual therapy

  • Soft tissue therapy

  • Modalities including electrical stimulation, ultrasound and acupuncture

  • Rehabilitation


Steps You Can Take to Ward Off Headaches

At Couve Health, we take a multifaceted approach to headache treatment. This means not only do we address your headache, we work with you to understand how your lifestyle may be contributing to your headaches. Together we can put a plan in place that combines treatment and lifestyle changes which help to mitigate your headaches.


Below are some common causes of headache pain:

  • Stress

  • Long hours at a computer or looking at your phone

  • Certain foods

  • Your environment (noise, light, etc.)

  • Insomnia


Tension headaches can often be attributed to spending a long time in one position. Looking down at your phone or working at a computer can build muscle tension in your neck causing “tech neck” and making you more susceptible to headaches.


Prolonged periods in the same position can irritate joints and create muscle tension in your upper back as well. In addition to your recommended chiropractic care plan, our team often suggests that you take a break every 30-60 minutes to move around, change positions, and help ward off pain.


Have you noticed that certain foods or environmental triggers seem to bring on your headaches? Often, small changes in your lifestyle can ward off these triggers.


Overall, with a few lifestyle tweaks together with chiropractic adjustments we can make a big difference in helping to relieve your chronic headache pain.


The next time you suffer from a headache, think twice about taking a pain reliever.


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