Head pain is any discomfort or pain in the face or head and can be the result of many different things. Headaches are the most common cause of head pain, but it can also be due to nerve damage, blood vessel issues, and muscle damage.
Head pain location may vary, and it can be dull and throbbing or sharper pain. From environmental triggers to dietary sensitivities to emotional stressors, any combination of factors may be causing the muscles in your head and neck to spasm, resulting in head pain.
If you have experienced recurrent head pain and at home treatments aren’t giving you relief, it may be time to seek a chiropractic adjustment.
Together, we will create a personalized treatment plan catered to YOUR body, YOUR pain points and YOUR speed. What is right for one won’t be right for another. We specialize in the following methods to create a customized treatment plan.
A great way to support your healing from head pain is through chiropractic care. Your chiropractor will use gentle adjustments to your spine and extremities to help realign your body, provide pain relief to your system, and decrease pressure. This allows your body to restore proper function. This drug-free, non-invasive treatment allows your chiropractor to support your specific needs and treat you with a personalized approach.
While you may think of massage as a personal indulgence, it can also be an important part of treatment for head pain. By focusing on trigger points of the back, neck, shoulders, and head, massage therapy can decrease head pain, tension, and discomfort. In fact, studies have shown that massage therapy can decrease the occurrence of head pain and sleep disturbances by promoting relaxation. It also reduces physical tension and mental stress which can also trigger head pain.
A chiropractor can perform spinal manipulation to alleviate stress on your system and improve spinal function. They may also help improve posture and offer advice on nutrition, exercises and relaxation techniques that can help relieve recurring joint irritation and tension in the upper back and neck.
Many individuals experience relief after their first adjustment. However, several sessions may be required for some individuals before they notice significant relief.
If you sit at a desk all day for work, get up several times an hour to walk and stretch. You’ll also want to make sure your desk, chair, and monitor are set up in a way that the ergonomics do not cause undue pressure and strain or improper posture. Also be sure you drink plenty of water as dehydration can result in migraines and headaches.
Migraines, unlike headaches, are a result of blood vessels that are constricted. Spinal misalignments may result in poor communication between the brain and the central nervous system which may result in migraines.
Migraines are a kind of headache that are set apart from normal headaches due to the symptoms experienced and the severity. It isn’t known why people get them, what they cause them, and what happens to the body during a migraine. Some types of external stimuli trigger migraines including food allergies and sensitivities, strong odors, red wine, flashing lights, tension headaches, and stress.
Migraine symptoms are one of the things that set this type of headache apart from other kinds. Migraines are characterized by intense pain accompanied by extreme sensitivity to sound, light, temperature, and odors; nausea and vomiting; and visual disturbances with auras. The symptoms can be debilitating.
While the cause of migraines isn’t completely understood, rapid dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the neck and at the base of the skull often proceed a migraine. Therefore, it is thought that disruption of the blood flow to the head is at least partly responsible for migraines. Migraines often run in families and are also associated with certain nervous system conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep disruption, dehydration, hunger, specific foods, hormones, and exposure to chemicals can all trigger a migraine.
Typical over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen often don’t provide relief to migraine pain, leading doctors to prescribe triptans or drugs that decrease inflammation and change the flow of blood within your brain. Medications that decrease the number of migraine occurrences may also be prescribed, although they do not address the source cause of your headaches.
Chiropractic treatment, in contrast, gets to the root of what’s causing your migraine. Focusing on the body’s alignment, particularly the spine, eases pain and improves your body’s mobility. Though individual treatment plans will vary, chiropractic care focuses on determining the specific characteristics of your migraines. Many patients respond well to adjustments, moving, stretching, and gently placing pressure on the spine, allowing the body to heal naturally.
Treatment lengths differ depending on the severity of the head and neck pain and the underlying causes. Relief may be seen with just one treatment, or it may take multiple treatments to experience significant relief.
Studies show that chiropractic treatments are 72 to 90 percent effective in reducing the frequency of primary head pain and migraines.
Migraine headaches have different symptoms than ordinary headaches and often have a pattern of incidence. Migraines also often cause pain in only one side of the head accompanied with nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells.
Symptoms of suboccipital headaches include aching, throbbing, and burning with intermittent shocking or shooting pain that starts at the base of the head and goes up the scalp on one or both sides of the head. They may also result in pain behind the eye of the affected side of the head and movements such as brushing the hair may trigger pain.
Suboccipital headaches are often the result of muscle tightness or pinched nerves in the neck, but it may also be caused by a neck or head injury. Osteoarthritis, trauma to the occipital nerves, cervical disc disease, tumors, gout, blood vessel inflammation, diabetes, and infection may also result in suboccipital headaches.
Treatment for suboccipital headaches may include non-surgical interventions such as heat or ice, physical or massage therapy, and medication. Chiropractic care, including spinal adjustments, can also relieve suboccipital headaches. The frequency, type, and duration of treatments will be based on findings and results.
The muscles become imbalanced when they become tight and can impact the signals that the muscles send to the brain. If this isn’t working correctly, you may become dizzy.
Suboccipital headaches are a result of inflammation and irritation of occipital nerves. These nerves are often irritated by spinal misalignments which chiropractors can correct through gentle manipulation and other techniques.
Your occipital bone sits just below your skull bone and is on the top of your first cervical, or neck, bone, called the atlas. There have been multiple studies that show benefits of adjusting this area of the spine, particularly headache relief.
People often confuse migraines or other types of headaches with suboccipital headaches because the symptoms can be similar. However, the treatments for them are much different because suboccipital headaches are due to inflamed or injured nerves that run from the spinal cord up through the scalp. The pain is often felt in the base of the skull or the back of the head.
Tension headaches are dull pain, pressure, and tightness in your neck, back of your head, and forehead. Some people liken the pain to a clamp squeezing their skull. These headaches are also called stress headaches. There are two types of tension headaches – episodic tension headaches and chronic tension headaches. Episodic tension headaches happen fewer than 15 days per month and chronic tension headaches happen more than 15 days per month. These headaches can last a few minutes to a few days, and many start slowly and often in the middle of the day.
Common symptoms of tension headaches include mild to moderate pressure or pain, headache that starts later in the day, fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, inability to focus, sensitivity to noise or light, and muscle aches. Unlike with migraines, you won’t have nerve symptoms such as blurred vision or weakness. You also are less likely to suffer from nausea or vomiting.
There is no single cause for tension headaches and they don’t run in families. Most of the time they are triggered by stress from school, work, friends, or family. Other triggers may include not enough sleep, anxiety, fatigue, poor posture, hunger, low iron levels, caffeine, dental problems, alcohol, eye strain, dehydration, smoking, and sinus infections or colds.
Most people with tension headaches try to treat the pain on their own with over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Chiropractic treatments are a great way to help tension headaches. As tension headaches are often due to a combination of stress and back or neck strain, chiropractic care has been proven to help provide relief for these headaches.
Spinal adjustments help release the tension held in the muscles which relaxes the body and increases blood circulation. This can help soothe tension headaches and relieve pain.
Recurring tension headaches are often the result of chronic musculoskeletal strain. Tightness may be worsened by emotional stress and may be due to cervical misalignment that throws the weight of the head off balance.
Women are twice as likely to experience tension headaches than men and studies show that 80 percent of adults in the United States suffer from tension headaches. About three percent of the population experiences chronic tension headaches.
Tension headaches may last 30 minutes to up to a week. If you have a headache more than 15 days per month over a three month period, your headaches may be chronic. Chronic tension headaches may lead to depression and more stress, which can lead to even more headaches.
Symptoms of this syndrome include neck pain and a headache that starts in the back of the head. Movement often makes the neck and head pain worse, as does bending forward or coughing. If there is pressure on the spinal cord, the arms and/or legs may feel weak and people may have difficulty moving them. Tingling or electric shock sensations may be felt shooting down the back and into the legs when the neck is bent forward. Some people may become less sensitive to temperature and pain in the hands and feet. People may experience double vision or be unable to move their eyes in certain directions or the eyes may move involuntarily. Symptoms may also include dizziness, tinnitus, facial pain, problems swallowing, and chronic sinus trouble.
This condition occurs as a result of injury to the structures that connect the head to the neck. Misalignment can cause abnormal tension on the spinal cord, spinal nerves, and blood vessels. This interferes with normal brain function, normal spinal nerve function, and can cause several different types of pain patterns throughout the body.
When the structures of the spine are putting pressure on the brain, nerves, or spine, doctors try to reduce the pressure by using manipulation or traction. A chiropractor may use different methods to accomplish this.
Atlas misalignment can be fixed safely and painlessly through procedures that restore balance to the body and improve body function through correct atlas vertebra alignment.
Neck crepitus, or that sound of sand grinding, is thought to occur when the structures of the spine rub together. One suggested cause is the formation and collapse of tiny bubbles of gas that are caused by pressure changes within the joint.
It takes time for the body to respond after the first adjustment, but some patients may feel immediate relief after the first adjustment. As the body begins to heal, you may notice a slight increase in fatigue or slightly sore or stiff muscles. These symptoms typically dissipate quickly and are nothing to worry about.
Cervical cranial syndrome, also known as cervicocranial syndrome, is a set of symptoms that are collectively the result of abnormalities in the neck that could be due to an injury or congenital in nature.
It is also sometimes called Craniocervical Junction Syndrome. The condition is identified by bones that have shifted, become misaligned, or collapsed causing nerve pain, an injured spinal cord, and in some cases, paralysis.
Sinuses are the air-filled spaces in the cheekbones, behind the bridge of the nose, and forehead. When they get inflamed, usually due to an infection or allergies, they swell and make mucus, blocking the channels that drain them. This can result in a buildup of pressure in your sinuses that feels like a headache.
Deep, constant pain in the areas of the sinuses is common and usually gets worse with strain and head movement. You may also experience a feeling of fullness in your ears, runny nose, swelling in your face, and fever.
Sinus headaches are almost always associated with pressure and pain in the face and sinuses as well nasal symptoms. These headaches are not always caused by sinus infections and should not always be treated with antibiotics. You are more likely to experience sinus headaches if you have a previous history of headaches or migraines, have a family history of headaches or migraines, or have headaches associated with hormonal changes.
If you have a sinus infection you may need to take antibiotics. Antihistamines or decongestants may also be needed to help relieve the backup of mucus and subsequent pressure. Another great, natural treatment option to relieve sinus pressure is chiropractic care. Gentle adjustments of the upper spine help to stimulate the nerves leading to your sinuses, decrease pressure, and reduce sinus irritability. More targeted, nasal-specific adjustments may also be used in combination with the adjustments of the spine at the discretion of your provider. This treatment targets pressure relief and can truly make a huge difference when managing discomfort from sinus infections.
Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than eight weeks and shouldn’t occur more than three times per year. A sinus headache should not last any longer than the sinusitis.
Sinus headaches typically occur in the areas of the sinuses – cheeks, bridge of nose, and forehead. Less often the pain may be referred to the top or back of the head.
Sinus infections are very common and symptoms, including headaches, normally go away within 10 days. However, if your symptoms last longer than 10 days, talk to your doctor. Your chiropractor may also be able to provide adjustments to improve symptoms when you experience them.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders may include pain or tenderness in the jaw, pain in one or both of the TMJ joints, aching pain around or in your ear, difficulty or pain chewing, locking of the joint, and aching facial pain. TMJ disorders also often cause a grating sensation or clicking/popping sound when opening the mouth or chewing.
The TMJ combines sliding motions with hinge action when moving. The parts of the bone that interact with the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a disc that absorbs shock and provides for smooth movement. TMJ disorders may occur if the disc erodes or moves out of place or the cartilage is damaged by injury or disease such as arthritis.
In some instances, TMJ disorders may not need treatment. However, if symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatments including anti-inflammatory medications, mouth guards or splints, and physical therapy. Surgical options may also be considered if symptoms persist.
Many people who suffer from jaw pain and TMJ disorders also benefit from chiropractic care. Adjustments of the spine, head, and neck can help to realign the body and provide relief to your jaw and facial regions. These gentle adjustments help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and allow actual healing to take place.
A TMJ disorder flare up can last as little as a few hours to several days. Untreated cases may become chronic and debilitating.
The answer depends on the kind of headache. Because headaches may result from issues within the skull, outside of the skull, blood pressure, spinal issues, medications, and more, there is no guarantee that your headache is due to your TMJ disorder. However, studies have shown that frequent headaches often decrease when TMJ disorders are treated.
Unfortunately, TMJ issues are progressive, which means they get worse over time if untreated. In the short term, sharp pains and jaw inflammation will likely increase resulting in jaw joint noises, muscle tenderness, and limited range of motion. Over time, these symptoms will likely get worse and your jaw could lock. You may also experience changes to the bony makeup of the jaw joint, wear and destruction of teeth, and loss of portions of the jaw joint resulting in a permanent change in your bite and ability to chew.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts as a sliding hinge that connects your skull to your jawbone. You have one on each side of your jaw, and disorders in this area can cause pain in the joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Pain may be the result of a variety of factors and is often able to be relieved with nonsurgical treatments.
Cervicogenic dizziness is a neck-related sensation where a person feels like they are spinning due to poor neck posture, trauma to the cervical spine, or other neck disorders. The dizziness often occurs after moving the neck and may impact your concentration and balance.
This condition is associated with dizziness from sudden neck movement, particularly when turning the head. Symptoms may include headache, nausea and vomiting, ear ringing or pain, loss of balance, neck pain, problems concentrating, and weakness. Symptoms may last a few minutes or a few hours.
There are a variety of causes of this condition. Disruption of blood flow to lower regions of the brain and inner ear due to arthritis, tearing or hardening of the arteries, surgery, or trauma. The muscles and joints in the neck have receptors that send signals about orientation to the brain, and when this system isn’t working properly, dizziness, lack of muscle coordination, and balance issues may result.
Treatment depends on the cause of the condition, but may include medications, exercises and stretches, and physical therapy. Many people with cervicogenic dizziness experience great relief from consistent chiropractic care. By performing gentle adjustments of the spine and neck, your practitioner can help your body realign, decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, and reduce nerve irritability. This all helps prepare your body for a better healing process.
Neck disorders, poor neck posture, trauma to the neck, or having your neck out of alignment can all result in dizziness. This dizziness often occurs when moving the neck and may also affect your balance and ability to concentrate. Chiropractic adjustments may help alleviate this specific type of symptom.
It is a treatable condition, but without medical guidance symptoms may get worse. The condition may also mimic more serious conditions. Consequently, if you begin to experience dizziness, neck pain, or other related symptoms you should see a medical professional immediately.
This condition will usually resolve with treatment of the neck issue causing the problem but may also require vestibular rehabilitation therapy for complete resolution of symptoms. Rarely will it go away completely on its own.
Chiropractic care for head pain is based on a deep understanding of how the spine relates to discomfort and pain in other areas of your body. In-office treatment generally includes using gentle pressure to realign the vertebrae and spine to bring on-the-spot relief from both pain and tension.
Your ongoing treatment plan takes all parts of your lifestyle and health history into account, including recommendations regarding nutrition, stress management, posture, ergonomics, vitamins, specific exercises and relaxation techniques. It’s all customized to address your tension and pain; no two patients are exactly alike, and neither are your headaches. While the convenience of medications might be tempting, there’s no substitute for in-person, holistic chiropractic treatment to address the cause of your pain and remedy the problem.