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There are people out there that have no concept of what a headache feels like and cannot grasp the concept of how debilitating it can be. For those of us that have experienced them we know all too well how crippling they can be.
I was a headache sufferer and Chiroprctic changed my life. In fact it was enough that I made a change in my occupation and decided that others needed to get the benefits as well. My path changed in 1978 while at a dinner party. I developed a monster headache and the gentleman across the table from me picked up on it and began asking questions about what treatments I had tried. He then asked if I ever tried Chiropractic. No, what do they do and how come the Neurologist never mentioned that as an option? He gave me his business card, yes, he was a Chiropractor. He told me when I was ready to try a different approach to give him a call. Well the very next day I developed another headache and made the call. He saw me that afternoon and my headache was relieved immediately. I was really frustrated with the fact that a Chiropractic option had never been suggested in all of my previous visits to headache specialists.
Headaches are quite common and vary from a tension headache at the base of the skull to full blown migraines that leave one debilitated, sometimes to the point of being sensitive to even the slightest sounds and light sensitivity. Migraine patients tend to go to a dark very quiet room to escape the sensory overload. Nausea, dizziness and vomiting are common for a migraine sufferer. Chiropractic treatment has provided millions of patients significant relief of their headaches.
I attended a symposium on headaches several years ago that was being presented by a very distinguished and well known speaker. The presenter was very well credentialed, an M.D., D.C., PhD., Neurologist, and Professor at a very well known Medical school. His opening comment was that 95% of patients with headaches that are seen at a Chiropractor's clinic can be related back to a neck issue. A pretty powerful statement and he had the research to back it up.
Clinically at Molloy Chiropractic Center, Inc. we have had great success in treating this condition with over 90% of our patients getting relief and in some cases, a complete resolution of the headaches. Globally, chiropractic treatment has provided millions of patients significant relief of their headaches.
So how does the mechanism of a neck issue cause a headache? The simple answer is vertebral misalignment (subluxation) of typically the C1, C2 or occiput levels.
What does a misalignment do mechanically and neurologically to manifest these serious symptoms? Mechanically there are several things going on simultaneously. The muscles attached to these spinal segments become tight and overstretched causing reactionary spasms from mechanoreceptors. This is what starts the typical tension headache. The stretched muscles compress the Greater Occipital Nerve leading to headaches. Typically the complaint is a pounding throbbing headache at the back of the head that radiates to the forehead.
The upper neck the area is engorged with specific nerve fibers called proprioceptors which are responsible for among other things, balance. When these receptors are agitated and begin to fire it sets of what patients describe as vertigo, lightheadedness, dizziness and then the onset of nausea and / or vomiting. It is all quite simply mechanical and neurological reactions set into play by the subluxation. Clinically patients with a headache present with their skin color very pale, "pastey" and wet clammy skin. I have personally seen immediate reactions of the headache, vertigo, skin color all improve within a few minutes following cervical manipulation of the subluxated segments.
So how is the determination made if a subluxation does exist? A detailed case history is taken especially focusing on any previous neck injury (which sometimes could have happened decades ago) along with Chiropractic, Neurological and Orthopedic exams. These exams consists of: cervical range of motion, static and motion palpation of the cervical spine, cervical (neck) x-rays, reviewing any previous MRI or CT exams, Cranial Nerve testing, various standard orthopedic neck screening tests, postural exam, breathing pattern analysis, muscle strength test of the upper extremity, trigger point analysis.
How long does this initial work up take? Usually around 1.0 - 1.5 hours. Treatment is typically performed on the initial visit and would typically consists of spinal manipulation and if needed a variety of PT options (trigger point therapy, breathing exercises, ultrasound, ice, moist heat, electric muscle stimulation, IASTM / FAKTR, postural correction exercises or specific acupuncture points).
How will I know if treatment is going to work? Typically at Molloy Chiropractic Center, Inc. if it is going to work the patient will see improvement within the first 2 weeks. It simply works or it doesn't.