Tag: chiropractic

chiropractic for headaches

Can Headaches Be Helped With Chiropractic Care?

Do you ever get headaches? If so, you’re not alone.

Nine out of ten people get headaches of some variety….frequent, infrequent, chronic, migraine and sadly, some completely debilitating. It’s a very common ailment.

People try lots of things to rid themselves of headaches, including taking various medications, lying down and simply powering through them until they go away. I’ve had patients ask me if chiropractic care can help their headaches – thankfully, the answer is YES!

But before I explain how, let’s start by talking about the common triggers for headaches.


What’s Causing Your Headache

Headaches can be caused or triggered by the environment, stress…even the foods you eat.

Environmental triggers can vary. Noises, lights, smells can all create conditions ripe for headaches to develop. Be aware of these factors when you get headaches and see if you can pinpoint your triggers (it will help you avoid them in the future).

Stress is known to create many health ailments in the body – so minimizing your stress levels by using relaxation techniques can help. Yoga, meditation and exercise are all proven ways people successfully keep their stress at bay.

Muscle tension is a big contributor to headaches these days – especially with how sedentary people are these days. Spending hours in front of a computer screen, fixed in one position and having poor posture can increase joint irritation and muscle tension, causing head and neck aches.

Certain foods, insomnia, dehydration, teeth-clenching and blood sugar changes are also headache contributors. Even excessive exercise can cause a headache! 95 percent of headaches can be traced back to some kind of trigger. Only 5 percent are warning signs of some other physical problem. So knowing your triggers and avoiding them at all costs is the best preventative.


How Chiropractic Care Can Help

The research supports chiropractic care, in particular, for certain types of headaches. A 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.

Migraine headaches are now considered a neurological disease, which results in a severe throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. A headache can be accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.

Cervicogenic headaches, for those unfamiliar with the term, result in “referred pain” or pain perceived as occurring in a part of the body other than its true source. A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache caused by another illness or physical issue. Its cause is a disorder of the cervical spine and the bony structures or soft tissues of the neck.

Keep in mind that chiropractic care is beneficial for prevention of headache episodes rather than the alleviation of symptoms once a chronic episode has begun.

When I work with patients, I am concerned with helping to correct any neuromusculoskeletal sources of a headache. This includes nerves, muscles and bones of the body. I perform a spinal exam to assess whether chiropractic care could alleviate the pain. I look for whether or not the headache may be caused, or aggravated by any misaligned vertebrae in the spine (subluxation) as that could be creating undue nerve interference.

If I determine that chiropractic care will help, I’ll recommend it. The type of spinal manipulation, frequency of manipulations and duration of treatment can vary. Any reputable chiropractor will take into consideration guidelines, his/her clinical experience and evidence-based findings.

The evidence for using spinal manipulation to relieve pain for patients with a tension-type headache remains questionable. While chiropractic care may help, we don’t have enough evidence to say this definitively.


Other Things Your Chiropractor May Recommend

As I mentioned earlier, the causes of headaches are varied – and by taking proactive steps, you may avoid having them altogether! I often provide my patients with nutritional advice and recommend dietary changes and the addition of B complex vitamins. As I’ve written about before, posture is a big part of avoiding all kinds of pain in the body – and focusing on improvements to posture and utilizing ergonomic supports can help stave off certain types of headaches. I often recommend relaxation and/or exercise as a lifestyle change to reduce the frequency of headaches my patients’ experience. Exercise, in particular, can stimulate the circulation of blood to the head and help to maintain neuromusculoskeletal flexibility.

RELATED: What Vitamins Should I Take – Getting the Essentials


Final Thoughts

Non-drug treatments may be the first choice for many patients – especially if they have a poor tolerance to medications, have experienced side effects or simply aren’t getting any relief from pharmacology. As well, if a patient is pregnant, nursing or simply has an aversion to medication, spinal manipulations from a licensed chiropractor may be a good option.

If you think you might benefit from chiropractic care – let me know! My staff can schedule an appointment where we can do a thorough exam and decide if chiropractic care may help with your headaches.

Dr. Sharman

make injuries heal faster

What you can do to make injuries heal faster

You have an injury or flare-up. Your doctor prescribes a regimen of treatment to get you back to where you were before. The first thing you likely ask is “how long will this take”?

It’s very natural to ask this question. When patients come in to me suffering from pain, they are frustrated by how much it interferes with their life.

The pain makes their work day difficult, interferes with the housework, makes it difficult for them to lift their children or grandchildren, restricts them from their favorite sport, messes up their travel plans or interferes with their personal life.

More than anything, patients just want to get back to their normal life as fast as they can. So, if this is you, what can you do to make injuries heal faster and impact your recovery? Plenty.


Getting enough care and being compliant with your treatment plan

For starters, a treatment plan needs the frequency of care and compliance. You can impact both of these.

As a patient, it usually is going to take about 12 visits to make a significant change in your pain level and mobility. You may find that you are feeling much better in about six visits, but to get to normal activities, it usually takes at least 12 visits. Typically, the more often you come, the faster you will get well. In a perfect world, if you are in severe pain, you would come in three times a week. But I realize that is not always realistic due to schedules or finances. If you can come twice a week, you can still make pretty good progress. Less than that and progress is going to be slow – too slow for most people.

You can also impact how well you comply with treatment. Sticking with the full course of care really matters. It is like taking an antibiotic – you don’t want to take antibiotics unnecessarily, but when you are in crisis and have to take them, you have to finish the whole course of medication. You cannot take a 10-day antibiotic for two or three days and expect the infection to go away. It is the same with the treatment. You may feel a little better after one or two treatments, but you are not stabilized to a point where the pain will stay away for good.


Approaching the problem from multiple angles

You can often speed up your recovery by implementing more than one approach. That’s one of the reasons we offer so many different services to tackle recovery.  If you have a herniated disk and you sit at a desk all day, I’ll recommend stretching and strengthing your postural muscles, especially strengthening the core. If we only use chiropractic manipulation, you will improve, but you would improve much faster if we add in therapeutic exercise. I may even suggest massage therapy, electric stimulation or ultrasound to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation. A multi-faceted rather than single-faceted approach generally results in faster recovery.


make injuries heal fasterUsing nutrition and supplements

At our office, we carry a variety of vitamin and supplementation products to reduce pain and inflammation, helping to speed up healing. One of my favorites for acute injury is Zymain. Zymain includes enzymes that help your body break down the compounds in inflammation that stimulate your pain fibers.  Zymain helps to metabolize and “process out” the pain stimulating compounds. As well, I can educate you on the types of foods that increase or decrease inflammation so you can make better choices.


Home care

What you do at home matters when it comes to making injuries heal faster.

For acute pain, ice can be your best friend. Unfortunately, many patients don’t really understand how to use ice properly. Do not wrap ice up in kitchen towels where the cold doesn’t penetrate deep enough to therapeutically affect the tissue. Instead, use ice or an ice pack with nothing but a thin t-shirt or a few paper towels between the ice and skin. Ice the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes, first feeling cold, then burning, then numb. Ice for 15 to 20 minutes on, 15 to 20 minutes off, alternating for 60 to 90 minutes. This allows the blood vessels to alternately constrict and dilate, pumping out inflammation. Heat can relax muscles but increase inflammation – so ask before you use it at home.

Other important areas of home care include doing home exercises, changing techniques for activities of daily living and getting proper support for sleeping, driving and sitting at a computer station. I can make recommendations for all of these as a part of your treatment plan.

The good news is that the body is more resilient than you could ever imagine. By sticking to the frequency of care, completing the full course of care, approaching the problem with all available treatments, utilizing nutritional and supplement approaches and paying attention to home care, we can maximize the body’s healing potential. And if you do this, you can get back to doing all the things in life you love – what everyone ultimately wants!


Dr. Sharman


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