When you think of remedies for nagging tension headaches, spinal adjustments and other services offered by chiropractors might not spring to your mind automatically -- but they should. As you may already know, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other drugs can't do much more than soothe this form of pain temporarily, one headache at a time, while presenting certain health risks of their own. That's where chiropractors can provide better, safer, more long-lasting solutions. Let's take a look at the uncomfortable world of tension headaches, along with the all-natural treatment options available from our Omaha chiropractor at Kosak Chiropractic and Acupuncture.
If you tend to get headaches whenever you're feeling emotionally or mentally stressed, you might assume that the term "tension headache" refers to this phenomenon. In reality, while these factors can certainly lead to a tension headache, the tension we're actually referring to is muscle tension in the neck.
Neck muscles can have a big influence on head pain, especially some of the small muscles at the base of the skull. For instance, a muscle called the RCPM (rectus capitis posterior minor) attaches directly to a highly-sensitive membrane that encircles the brain called the dura mater. Spasms in the RCPM muscle can pull on the dura mater, causing it to send diffuse, aching pain into your head. The muscles on each side of the neck can also refer pain messages to the head if they go into spasm.
Why do tension headaches happen? As mentioned, emotional stress that makes your neck muscles tight can certainly produce a tension headache. Anyone can experience on-off headaches from these moments of stress, or even from a night of sleeping with an awkward head position. But when tension headaches become a chronic problem, some underlying musculoskeletal dysfunction is usually at work. For instance:
If you want to reduce the intensity and frequency of your chronic headaches on an ongoing basis, or even eliminate them altogether, you need to treat the physical conditions that trigger those headaches in the first place. Drugs can't achieve that goal, but chiropractic care can. Research has shown that chiropractic treatment does a better job of keeping patients pain-free than drugs, and with 82 percent fewer side effects. (This treatment modality can also greatly reduce the number and intensity of headaches in migraine sufferers.) By correcting the imbalances that promote neck tension, we remove the prime factor in the development of your headaches.
What kinds of care can you expect to receive for your chronic tension headaches? Our chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Kosak, starts by analyzing your symptoms, work habits, lifestyle, posture, and cervical spinal alignment. Careful, precise adjustments to the cervical vertebrae can bring your neck back into alignment with your head, equalizing the weight distribution on your shoulders. Repeated adjustment sessions can help establish this arrangement as the "new normal" for your neck.
Our ability to tame your tension headaches doesn't end with chiropractic adjustments. We can prepare a holistic pain relief plan that includes multiple modalities, each with its own special benefits. For example, acupuncture has helped ease headache pain naturally for thousands of years, and we can use this technique to activate your body's own painkilling mechanisms. We can also prescribe stretches and corrective exercises to rehabilitate damaged neck tissues and/or loosen and relax the neck. We can even recommend postural and lifestyle changes at home and at work to help you keep your neck -- and therefore your head -- happy, healthy, and pain-free.
Chronic problems such as tension headaches may seem stubborn, but you can fight them effectively once you're receiving treatment for their underlying causes. If you're ready to rally against tension headache pain, call our Omaha chiropractor at (402) 964-0300 to book an appointment. We know how to help your aching head!