Headaches are such a common ailment that many Americans perceive them as normal. More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches and of those, 28 million people suffer from migraines. Seven million Americans suffer from a headache at least every other day. A headache is the reason for approximately one-third of pain clinic visits. Even more amazing, a severe headache results in five percent of visits to a hospital emergency room. On any given day, millions of people in the U.S. look for ways to get headache relief.
Researchers and medical professionals have diagnosed 150 categories of headaches. Tension headaches, sometimes called chronic daily headaches, are the most common type among adolescents and adults. Muscles contract, causing mild to moderate pain, and these headaches frequently come and go over a prolonged period. Causes of headaches of the migraine variety are unknown, though doctors believe migraines are related to changes within the brain, including blood vessel contractions.
Migraines are often characterized by throbbing, pounding pain that ranges from moderate to severe in degree. A migraine can last from four hours to as long as three days and typically occurs between one and four times per month. Associated symptoms include nausea or vomiting, appetite loss, and sensitivity to noise, odors, or light. Children suffering from migraines may also feel dizzy, look pale, experience blurred vision, and get a fever. The condition can be so debilitating that sufferers of all ages are willing to try anything to get migraine headache relief.
People suffering from sinus headaches report a constant, deep pain in their forehead, cheekbones, or the bridge of their nose. Sudden movement of the head only intensifies this pain. Other sinus-related symptoms including fever, nasal discharge, and facial swelling often accompany these headaches. Cluster headaches are the least common primary headache types and these are characterized by intense constant or throbbing pain behind one eye or within the eye region that has a piercing or burning quality.
Depending on the type of headache being experienced, pain may be felt in the forehead, around the eyes, in the temples, or in the back of the head. While headaches of the cluster variety occur on one side of the head, other types occur on both sides. Patients may grow so accustomed to experiencing a certain type of headache that they refer to it as "normal." While headache pain may be common, it is never normal and migraine, sinus, cluster, and tension headache relief should be sought as soon as possible.
While exact causes of headaches that fall into some categories are unknown, research indicates that upper neck joints and nerves are the source of pain experienced by many common headache suffers. This area of the body is referred to as the cervical spine and the condition is referred to as a cerviogenic headache, which means "headaches coming from the neck." In its headache classification system, the National Institutes of Health classifies cerviogenic headaches as one of the five major types of headaches.
Spinal manipulations, also called spinal adjustments, are safe and effective remedies for headaches due to irritated upper neck joints and nerves. Within the U.S., Doctors of Chiropractic perform most spinal manipulations. The adjustments they perform safely and gently establish proper movement of the upper neck and its joints. Reported side effects have been few, if any, making spinal manipulation a viable alternative to medication-based headache remedies commonly used by American headache sufferers.
Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, are commonly taken to achieve stress, tension, and migraine headache relief. These medications are available without a prescription, making them easy for headache sufferers to obtain. However, they can also be quite harmful due to their side effects. Every year in the U.S., more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 16,000 die from irritation or bleeding ulcers within the stomach and gastric tract stemming from NSAID side effects.
Another difference between medications and spinal manipulations is the result of the treatment. Medications tend to mask the pain experienced by headache sufferers. Spinal adjustments are designed to correct the cause of the headache. Using spinal manipulation rather than medication treatments for headaches also has major healthcare cost-saving implications. Research conducted by one expert reveals that the U.S. healthcare system could save more than $13 billion dollars a year if chiropractic treatments primarily used as headache remedies.
Whether they are seeking migraine, stress, tension, or sinus headache relief, people should explore all available treatments. Some may come to discover that the most recommended remedies for headaches are not as beneficial as they claim to be, due to their side effects. Chiropractic manipulation represents a safe and effective treatment option.