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Headaches and Chiropractic Care

It’s no secret that stress and poor posture plague more of us than we would like to admit, but did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches?

While there are many different kinds of headaches, the large majority of headaches are directly due to problems with the pain sensitive structures of the head and neck.

More often than not, these problems are related to over-activity or over-use of the pain-sensitive structures- including muscles and nerves. These types of headaches are categorized as primary headaches, with tension-type headaches being the most prevalent in this category.

So what is a tension-type headache anyway? Just like it sounds, tension-type headaches are aptly named to indicate their origin from some kind of mental or muscular tension. When our muscles get tight from stress or poor posture, for example, this over-activity leads to a situation where the body produces fibrous scar tissue in the affected area- much like it would in an acute injury. This creates adhesions within and between the soft tissue structures that need to be able to move freely.

A recent study published in the Journal of Pain Research found that patients with tension-type headaches also had impaired muscle function in the neck and shoulders1.  As you can imagine, having our muscles and soft tissues bound up can directly impact our body’s biomechanics and how we are able to move and function as a whole. The joints in our spine and elsewhere in the body need stimulation from proper movement to stay healthy and operational. When it comes to headaches that originate in the neck, cervical spine dysfunction has been found to play a role in the headache process.

So what can we do about it? Past research has shown that manual therapies- such as chiropractic and soft tissue manipulation- can greatly reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches2.  Active Release Technique (ART ™) is a unique, movement-based, soft tissue technique for the evaluation and treatment of a vast array of musculoskeletal conditions- including those related to headaches. 

At Evergreen Spine and Sports Medicine, our Doctors of Chiropractic are certified in ART™, and utilize a variety of other therapies and techniques to help keep you and your body in tip-top shape. So next time you find yourself with a headache, give us a call to schedule for an adjustment and ART™.

1.) Madsen, B. K., Søgaard, K., Andersen, L. L., Skotte, J., Tornøe, B., & Jensen, R. H. (2018). Neck/shoulder function in tension-type headache patients and the effect of strength training. Journal of Pain Research11, 445–454.

2.) Malo-Urriés, Miguel & Miguel Tricás-Moreno, José & Estébanez-de-Miguel, Elena & Hidalgo-García, César & Carrasco-Uribarren, Andoni & Cabanillas, Sara. (2017). Immediate Effects of Upper Cervical Translatoric Mobilization on Cervical Mobility and Pressure Pain Threshold in Patients With Cervicogenic Headache: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 40. 649-658. 10.1016/j.jmpt.2017.07.007.

Originally posted on May 20, 2018

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