Living in Seattle means we are obligated to talk about the weather first and foremost. With the days beginning to dry out and the sun peeking out from behind the clouds on most day, for me, the worst feeling is not being able to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the city because of a headache.

Headaches take a variety of forms. Most of us have experienced a tension headache- that one you get after a long day of conference calls and meetings. Some have experienced debilitating migraines that leave you feeling helpless until they pass.

Has the pain from your headaches ever wished you could drill a hole in your head and lift the pain out?

Surprisingly, 3,000 years ago, this was the remedy of choice. It was once believed that evil spirits in the brain were the culprit of headaches, and needed to be released.  Anyone who has ever suffered the searing pain of a migraine knows that this might be appealing in theory, if misguided in practice. Thankfully, our understanding of headaches has evolved.

We now know that the two most common kinds of headaches are tensionheadaches and migraine headaches. Chiropractic treatment is among the favored (non-brain-drilling!) options for treating headaches and migraines.  Chiropractic is a natural, drug-free, and non-invasive option if you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines.  Chiropractic focuses on returning full function to your spine.

What is a tension headache?

Tension headaches are often caused by the contraction of muscles in your shoulders, neck, and head. This tension can be the result of emotional stress, environmental over-stimulation,  or injury. It’s natural for your body’s muscles to contract when you feel threatened. However, if your muscles remain in this state for long periods of time it can lead to uneven stress on your body’s skeletal structure.

In many cases, uneven stress is visually apparent, showing up in an asymmetrical posture and compensation in your movements. These changes might include a stooped back, uneven shoulder height, uneven gate, and restricted neck movement.

What is a migraine headache?

Migraine headaches are very different from tension headache. The main difference is that migraine headaches are vascular and arise from the sudden expansion of blood vessels within your head. The exact causes of these expansions are unknown, but there are several common triggers. These triggers can include bright lights, smells, changes in the weather, stress, and diet.

These painful headaches vary in severity and intensity. They can last up to 72 hours. The sufferer can experience a wide range of mild to completely debilitating pain.

How can chiropractic treatments help ?

The basis of chiropractic medicine is spinal manipulation. This is used to correct your skeletal structure when it becomes misaligned. A misaligned skeletal structure is particularly dangerous for your nervous system which runs through it.

The bones of the spinal column protect the delicate nerve fibers that begin at your brain and travel throughout your body regulating every function from breathing to walking to sleeping. Everything your body does is controlled by your brain that uses the nerves to send its instructions. When your spine  becomes compressed in an irregular way, it can limit the signals from the brain, which in some cases results in pain such as headaches and migraines.

Using spinal manipulation, chiropractors naturally guide your spine back to its proper alignment reducing stress on the central nervous system.  In what seems like a miracle to sufferers, this often significantly reduces and even completely eliminates recurring headaches.

In addition to chiropractic manipulation as a treatment, there are a few common lifestyle changes that have been shows to be effective at helping to reduce the duration and frequency of your migraines. Understanding those migraine triggers: alcohol, certain food and beverages (especially caffeine), changes in weather, bright lights, certain medications (such as birth control), noise,smells,smoking, and stress, is the first step toward taking control of your migraines. If lifestyle changes do not provide relief then the next step would be to contact yourBelltown Chiropractor to discuss treatment options that may be right for you.