Headaches Are On A Continuum Sioux City
Many headache sufferers notice that at certain times their headaches are more severe than others. When their stress levels are low, when they’re working less or exercising regularly, their headaches are less frequent and less intense. They also notice that their headaches are triggered after prolonged slouching at the computer. Their headaches go through cycles, sometimes occurring only infrequently and mildly, and other times occurring several times per week, bringing more severe pain.
There is a theory that describes headaches as existing on a continuum. The theory holds that everyone can have tension or migraine headaches. At certain times, their headaches are on the mild side of the scale. At other times, their tension and migraine headaches are severe. Sometimes their tension headaches are a mild inconvenience, and other times they feel like migraines. Likewise, migraine headaches can slide down the scale and become very mild and infrequent. Stress, or certain activities and postures, can cause the headaches to slide up and down the scale of severity.
People who suffer from headaches for months or years often experience this continuum firsthand. They remember times when things have been going well in their lives, and they’ve been afflicted by perhaps only one headache per month. Alternately, during periods when they are under heavy stress, overworked, not sleeping, or slouching at a computer, their headaches are daily, intense, and can start before lunch. These people might describe three to five distinct tension headaches per week, especially towards the end of the work week. Their headaches are start earlier in the day and become very severe by the end of work.
Over time, people find ways to help slide their headaches down the scale. Some people respond to massage, exercise, stretching, ice, physical therapy, or chiropractic treatments. They feel much better when they focus on their posture and find ways to decrease neck stress.
Sliding up and down the continuum is something we do without noticing. After answering a series of questions, patients recognize how their headaches have shifted over the last several months, and how these shifts correlate with changes in their lives at home, at work, and at play.
Headache treatment focuses on doing more of the good things and less of the bad things. We focus on improving posture to decrease the stress, strain, and workload of the neck and back muscles. We work on decreasing muscle spasms in the neck and upper back. We try and find ways to decrease work, home, and family stress. Likewise, many patients respond very quickly to treatments that address muscle spasms, tenderness, and trigger points. Massage therapy, Graston Technique, and Active Release Technique are excellent treatments for decreasing muscle pain and thus neutralizing its contribution to tension and migraine headaches.
These treatments work by decreasing muscle adhesions, or buildups of scar tissue inside muscle, which contribute to headaches. This is very common in people who describe their headaches as always starting at one location in their neck and moving up through their head. Scar tissue is a weak point in the muscle, and any time the affected muscle is overworked, it sets off a series of events that lead to headaches. Scar tissue patches become very aggravated over time, so that less and less strain is required to trigger headaches. Graston Technique and Active Release Technique (ART) are effective at treating scar tissue adhesions to improve muscles. Treating scar tissue is an important aspect of patient care when the goal is to improve headache symptoms. We combine Graston Technique and ART with chiropractic, exercise, stretching, ice, heat, electric, ultrasound, or cold laser therapies to further decrease pain and inflammation. Reducing the overall workload of the neck muscles helps decrease the likelihood of headaches developing.
With a combination of treatments, people very quickly notice less intense headaches during the work week. Their headaches start later in the afternoon or evening. They are also less intense and severe, and go away with ice, rest, and over-the-counter medications. People return to “normal,” and enjoy weekends without neck pain or headaches. People feel like they are returning to their old selves, and are able to enjoy life again.
Many of us do not realize that we are overworking ourselves. Our neck and upper back muscles start sliding down the continuum and we do not recognize the changes until several weeks or months later. A few bad days will not shift us down the continuum by themselves, but our overall daily activities and work stress chip away at our physical health, so that we slide down the continuum over time.
Many times, tension and migraine headaches are worse when the patient tends to engage in certain postures, activities, or work, or to slouch at a computer; these headaches respond very well to the types of treatment described above. These headaches are aggravated by injured neck and upper back muscles and joints. Decreasing irritation, pain, and inflammation in the muscles and joints effectively reduces headache intensity and frequency.
Stay On The Good Side Of The Continuum
Chiropractic offices specialize in treatments to help with your neck, upper back, and headaches. Every day you can meet people in our office who have suffered with severe headaches because they slid down the wrong side of the headache continuum. With these treatments, they improved, and are now experiencing very few headaches. Many find their headaches disappear for months at a time and only recur with excessive slouching, work, or stress on the neck and upper back. These occasional headaches quickly improve with ice, rest, over-the-counter medication and chiropractic treatments. The patients refocus on their posture and home therapies to maintain a headache-free lifestyle.