Living with a headache

Wednesday, September 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

"This project is giving me a headache," "What a headache this job has become." "Headaches"-certainly no other term of physical suffering is used as often figuratively and literally. In fact, next to back pain, probably the most common problem I treat is headache.

Most of the busy executive types I see in my clinic have problems they call headaches, and regularly get real headaches from working out their problems. My experience is that most of them are good at solving their business problems. That's why they are busy successful executive types.

But they usually have no idea what is causing their real headaches, and more importantly, what to do to get rid of them.

Thousands of Malaysians take daily or near-daily doses of pain relief medications to combat headaches, as well as other problems. But this provides only temporary relief and causes a variety of unpleasant side effects such as gastritis.

Headaches can be divided into two major categories: those that originate inside the head, and those that originate outside the head. Those that originate truly inside the head are very rare and are usually a medical emergence. Causes of these kinds of headaches include tumor, stroke and brain edema.

More than 90 per cent of headaches can be classified as tension-type, migraine or cervicogenic. By far, most people, especially business people under stress, get tension-type headaches and get them frequently. They typically suffer mild to moderate pain, on both sides of the head, that is often described as tight, stiff and constricting, like having something wrapped around and pressing tightly against your head.

Migraines are periodic, severe, throbbing headaches that afflict far fewer people (and more women than men), usually hurt on one side of the head, can cause loss of appetite, nausea and even vomiting, and may involve a visual change called an aura.

Cervicogenic headache is a muskuloskeletal form of tension-type headache (which may also be related to migraines). Many times, cervicogenic headache goes undiagnosed as such due to the relative newness of this classification. Millions of adults worldwide get headaches regularly. Headaches are among the most common physical complaints prompting people to treat themselves or get professional assistance. One estimate holds that some 50 million people in the US get severe, long-lasting, recurring headaches.

Most headaches are not signs of serious underlying conditions, but they can be very distracting, debilitating and account for significant amounts of time lost from work.

If you are a headache sufferer, your obvious concern is to obtain safe, dependable relief. You should avoid making things worse by using drugs-even over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs-that can have serious side effects and dangerous interactions with other medications or supplements you take. You should also be aware that many people experience what are termed "analgesic rebound headaches" from taking painkillers every day, or nearly every day. Watch out! The medicine you take to get rid of today's headache may give you a headache tomorrow and the days after.

What can chiropractic do?

Chiropractors have had considerable success relieving the cause of headache pain and releasing headache sufferers from the dangerous vicious circle of taking ever-larger doses of ever-stronger painkillers that may even be causing new and worse headaches.

Chiropractic adjustments have shown to be as effective and even more effective than medications in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches. Chiropractic is particularly successful in dealing with cervicogenic headache. This is thought to be because these types of headaches result from misalignments of bones in the cervical spine.

A number of recent clinical studies note the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation in relieving headache symptoms.

Evidence points to a variety of possible causes of headache pain, including stress, muscle tension, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances. However, most headache sufferers turn to over-the-counter drugs as their only form of relief.

You don't have to be one of the millions dependent on pain medications.

If you suffer from headaches, schedule a comprehensive evaluation with your doctor of chiropractic. If neck and spine dysfunction is causing your pain, regular adjustments might be an effective solution.

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