About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) offers the following suggestions to prevent headaches: If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The rule that we use at Tulsa Chiropractic Rehab is the 1 min:1sec rule. For every minute you are in a fixed position, do one second of a postural correcting exercise/stretch (namely Bruegger’s exercise). This means you could take a break every 15 minutes and do 15 seconds of exercise, or 30 seconds for every 30 minutes. Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics. Avoid teeth clenching to reduce tension. Drink 64 ounces of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches. Dietary changes and supplementation can also help.
With most headaches resulting from muscle tension in the neck (specifically the suboccipitals), simply massaging these muscles may help to relieve quite a bit of pressure and pain. This is something that you could do yourself, but Chiropractors have many highly effective soft tissue techniques to help relax overactive neck muscles and can expertly pinpoint which specific muscle fibers are involved. In combination with cervical manipulation, we can usually completely resolve a headache in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind that it is possible that the headache will eventually return. This is why correcting the postural abnormality causing the increased tension is so important. This is done with a series of stretches and exercises designed to retrain the body to function properly so that those muscles don’t become tight and tense in the first place.
If you suffer from headaches, don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We would be happy to give you a free consultation and answer any questions you might have.