Many people have occasional headaches but some people have headaches that are more severe, frequent and disabling. There can be many different types of headaches including: migraine, tension, cluster, sinus, and hormonal. The most common of these is tension headaches with the U.S. National Library of Medicine estimating that about 90% of all headaches are tension headaches. During a tension headache there can be muscle tightness in the neck, scalp or head which can in turn lead to significant discomfort and pain. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can often reduce the severity and frequency of such headaches. Some helpful tips to fight tension headaches include:
- Exercise regularly to relieve stress, relax tight muscles and get your joints moving.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle including regular meal and sleep routines and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Manage stress by learning relaxation techniques, finding time for hobbies, organizing your day and, if needed, seeking professional advice on improving your coping skills.
- Keep your muscles and joints from tightening up in the first place by maintaining good posture. Be careful how you sit, sleep, stand and carry things. Also, try to change your posture frequently.
- Relax your muscles by applying heat or ice, taking a warm bath, or stretching gently.
- Determine headache triggers. A headache diary can help identify triggers and therefore be useful in learning to avoid certain activities, foods, beverages or behaviors.
It is important to take headaches seriously. Although most headaches are not an indication of a serious illness, some headaches do require prompt attention. Chiropractors are trained to help identify what type of headache you are suffering from and to determine what factors may be contributing to such a headache. If treatment is deemed appropriate, chiropractors can offer some gentle soft tissue therapy to alleviate the tense muscles and some specific adjustments to mobilize the restricted joints in your neck or upper back. As well, chiropractors can offer postural and lifestyle advice to help reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches. If your chiropractor deems chiropractic treatment to not be appropriate, she or he will refer you to your medical doctor for follow up.
Dr. Krista Prowse Welch, Halifax Chiropractor
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