Tension headaches are caused by muscular tension and contraction involving the muscles of the shoulders, neck and head. Often this tension is a result of emotional stress, though injuries can also set a pattern of muscle contraction into play. It is normal for muscles to contract when we are threatened, irritated or angry, a reaction known as the fight or flight response. Over time, though, if work or home life creates a constant source of stress from which we can neither fight nor flee, the muscular tension can become chronic. This, in turn, leads to uneven stresses on the skeletal structure of the body, and changes in normal posture and movement to compensate. These misalignments lead to more muscular tension and contraction. This can become a vicious cycle that eventually results in pain, often as headache pain.
Chiropractic adjustments, combined with other therapies such as trigger point therapy and massage, can release muscular tension and realign the skeleton to break the cycle of pain. Often patients with chronic headaches will find relief through chiropractic in just a few treatments, as muscles relax and nerve irritation is reduced.
Migraine headaches are vascular headaches, arising from sudden dilation of the blood vessels of the head. No one knows exactly what causes migraine headaches, though the basic mechanism, involving both the nervous and vascular systems, is well studied. Migraines can be triggered by hormonal changes, foods, smells, weather changes, stress, and many other triggers. The headaches often begin with symptoms other than pain, such as visual auras, nausea or sensitivity to light and sound. The headache that follows can vary in intensity, but is often severe. Many migraine sufferers have found over-the-counter pain medications to be ineffective, and resign themselves to wait out the migraine event in a dark, quiet room. A variety of pharmaceutical drugs have been developed to treat migraines, but none of them work for everyone, and many have unwanted side effects.
Chiropractic can play an important role in treating migraines. Clinical studies, though still preliminary, suggest that chiropractic may have a measurable role in the prevention of migraines. Through manipulation and adjustments of the spine and neck, migraines can often be reduced or prevented. Nerves control vascular system tension, and chiropractic adjustments reduce irritation of the nervous system beginning with its roots in the spine, also improving vascular flow.
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