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Headache Help Through Chiropractic
and Massage

By Dr. Deanna Minkler
Reprinted from The Spinal Column: Tips and News from the Sauganash Wellness Center

If you suffer from headaches, a chiropractic spinal checkup and massage are two of the best things you can do. Chiropractic and massage are safe, gentle, and drugless, and have helped millions of headache sufferers over the years. Yet chiropractic and massage do not claim to be a headache treatment and cure — they have a different approach to health care.

Doctors of Chiropractic free your body from the vertebral subluxation complex, or VSC, that has the power to destroy your health. It affects millions of us — it is a hidden epidemic. When freed of subluxations, your body works more efficiently to use its natural energies to heal itself. Massage therapists aid the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) into a natural and relaxed state. How is this accomplished? Read on.

Types of Headaches

  • Cervical Origin Headaches
    Pain originates from the neck due to such things as subluxations, muscle spasm and nerve irritation.
  • Tension Headaches
    Pain comes from irritated or inflamed soft tissues of the neck and head, primarily muscles, nerve endings and their connective tissues that can develop into trigger points ("knots").
  • Vascular Headaches
    Produced by irritation and inflammation of the blood vessels of the brain caused by a variety of diseases (fevers, drugs, poisons, toxins, altered pH, nerve irritation, hormone imbalance).
  • Migraine Headaches
    A neural-hormonal- vascular phenomenon of disabling proportions caused by a complex interaction between the nervous system, the hormonal system, and the affected vascular segment. Many times preceded by a prodrome or "warning signal" such as nausea, visual or speech disturbance, numbness, or dizziness.
  • Cluster Headaches
    Called cluster headaches because the headaches come in groups. Pain generally lasts from 30-45 minutes, but can persist for several hours. Most sufferers experience one to four headaches a day during a cluster period.
  • Organic Headaches
    Include, sinus headache, hangover headache, allergy headache, caffeine withdrawal headache, pregnancy headaches, hypertension (high blood pressure) headaches, TMJ (jaw) dysfunction, reading headaches, hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) headaches. May also be due to tumors, brain aneurysm, hematoma, meningitis, brain abscess, etc.
  • Rebound Headaches
    Due to the overuse of medications (exceeding label instructions or doctor's advice). Precipitates a "rebound" into another headache. This is particularly true if your medication contains caffeine.

What Puts the Ache In Headache?
The ache in headache does not come from the brain. It's true! Your brain can feel no sensation. Even during brain surgery the patient is often wide awake feeling no pain, even talking to the doctors while his/her brain is being tampered with (a local anesthetic numbs the scalp).

What puts the "ache" in your headache? Veins and arteries inside the brain and skull, membranes that wrap around the brain, and certain nerves in the head called cranial nerves. When these are pulled, stretched, compressed, irritated, inflamed or infected, headaches often result.

Headache treatment depends on what caused it. A headache arising from visual problems can often be cured by eyeglasses. An infection headache of the sinuses or ears is relieved when the infection subsides. But the most common headaches are usually treated with painkillers. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year on everything from aspirin to Tylenol to prescription drugs may provide blessed relief, but please remember — the pain may be gone but the cause of the headache is not corrected! That's why we may see millions of people swallowing pills for years, possibly suffering from the side effects of long-term medication use — and not getting any better, only temporarily feeling better. Surely, that's not a healthy way to live.

The Chiropractic and Massage Approach
Millions of headache sufferers are turning to the natural, drugless, chiropractic and massage approach to health. Chiropractors are the only healing professionals who are trained to analyze and correct the vertebral subluxation complex — a spinal distortion that can damage your nerves, inflame your tissues, cause muscles to tighten and knot, weaken your body, cause fatigue, and set the stage for sickness and disease. It is truly a hidden epidemic.

Massage addresses tension headaches by relaxing the neck, shoulders, and upper back. As we relax, we soften our muscles and headaches disappear. Tension headaches are the easiest headaches for us to address. Sinus headaches are best addressed by face massage. As the sinus cavities become relaxed, the fluids that are trapped in these spaces release and begin to flow, allowing us to drain and cleanse the sinuses. There are simple techniques that any experienced massage professional can teach you to allow you to release these cavities yourself.

Between massages, you will find relief with a few minutes of self-massage done on a regular basis. Migraine headaches can be caused by either impingement of the nerves in the neck or by chemical imbalances. Massage can address the impinged nerve problem by releasing the Levator Scapulae Muscles and other neck musculature.

The Chiropractic Checkup
Just as you may have a cavity in your teeth and be unaware of the damage it's causing, so the VSC may be causing serious harm to your body -- sometimes for years -- without your knowledge.

Using her hands, possibly x-ray, and other instruments to analyze your spine, Dr. Deanna will determine if you have VSC. Then using special techniques, she may perform a spinal adjustment to correct the vertebral subluxation complex, removing the nerve pressure and spinal distortions. You may then see the massage therapist, Rachel and/or Liz, to treat the muscular and other soft tissue components of your condition.

To Restore Itself
Remember, the purpose of the chiropractic spinal adjustment is to remove the nerve and spinal stress caused by the vertebral subluxation complex. The purpose of massage therapy is to restore the soft tissues to a normal, relaxed state. This permits your body to restore itself to a greater level of health and wholeness -- in effect, to better heal itself.

The Spine and Headaches
Researchers have often noted the relationship between the spine and many types of headaches. For example, one study of 6,000 long-term (two to 25 years) headache sufferers revealed that neck injury (whiplash, falls) was the most important factor in the cause of the headache and should be suspected in every nonspecific cause of headache.

If you suffer from headaches, make sure your spine and muscles are healthy — come to Sauganash Wellness Center.

Adapted from Koren Publishing.

headache help

Headache treatment depends on what caused it.
For example, migraine headaches can be caused
by either impingement of the nerves in the neck or
by chemical imbalances. Massage can address the
impinged nerve problem by releasing the Levator
Scapulae Muscles and other neck musculature.


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