Tag: posture

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

poor posture in children

The public health epidemic you should know about

I don’t throw the words “public health epidemic” around lightly, but I do feel that we have gotten to that point with this health issue. I see it every day in my practice as well as in my community…and it has gotten dramatically worse in the 20 years I’ve been practicing chiropractic.

That public health epidemic is poor posture in children.

When I started practicing, chiropractors were mainly talking about children’s backpacks being too heavy and the impact of the added weight on kids’ posture. Although that is still an issue, now the main culprits of poor posture in children are the use of electronic devices and poorly developed postural muscle tone, due to the sedentary lifestyles of today’s kids.

Why posture is important – in children and adults

Before we get into the causes and ways to improve poor posture, I want to spend a moment on why good posture is critical for children – and really anyone.

When we have good posture, it keeps us in proper alignment, preventing abnormal wear and tear on our bodies. It also reduces the likelihood of injury. With good posture, our muscles work most efficiently and correctly, reducing strains and overuse.

There are even more profound effects of poor posture – ones that most people are completely unaware of.

  • Studies have shown that slouching reduces lung capacity. People with an exaggerated rounding of the back, or kyphosis, can reduce their lung capacity up to 30 percent!
  • Head-forward posture elongates the spinal cord causing a reduction in nerve conductivity.
  • Your muscles need to work harder when your head is forward as well. Every inch your head leans forward creates 10 additional pounds of weight for the muscles to support in keeping your head upright. Think of the difficulty of holding a bowling ball far away from your body in front of you versus holding it close to your chest.
  • Finally, there are some psycho-social aspects to poor posture. Studies even show that having bad posture can impact your mood (and improving your posture can make it better).

 

RELATED: Poor Posture Can Equate to Neck Pain

Causes of poor posture in children

The obvious one is overweight backpacks. At the same time, children today are slouching to look over electronic devices for long periods of time and leading sedentary lifestyles that contribute to poor muscle tone. Finally, stooping to bend when trying to look “less tall” and female development of breasts during puberty also contribute to poor posture habits.

Ways to improve posture

For starters, make sure your child’s backpack is no more than 10 percent of their body weight. Kids have been dealing with heavy backpacks for years, and there are some basic things they can do to lessen the load.

If your child has a computer or laptop station, make sure it is set up to be ergonomically correct. Investing in a quality chair at their computer desk will encourage better sitting posture.

If they do spend a lot of time on iPads, smartphones or other electronic devices, find ways for them not to slouch. They can stack pillows on their lap and rest their elbows on them to bring the device higher up.  You can encourage them to sit on a stability ball while they play video games or browse their devices so that they are at least activating their core muscles while they entertain themselves. Of course…. limiting their screen time will also help!

Most importantly, if your child has bad posture, know that it can be improved. I have seen many children go from poor posture to normal posture through chiropractic and postural exercise. We have great protocols in our office to make improving posture both fun and satisfying for children of all ages. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see a child’s confidence improve right along with their posture!

The American Chiropractic Association has a lot to say about posture – check it out.

 

Dr. Sharman