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  • Writer's pictureShiv Bajaj

How to Rid the Ache from your Headache

Everyday I have patients come into my practice complaining of a headache. Its one of the most common maladies patients see a chiropractor or medical doctor for. Now, while majority of you take over the counter medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol to get rid of your headache, some people are unable to get long term relief from medication. What do you do in such a situation? Take stronger addiction forming medication or suffer? Well, for over a century there has been another option. Its not just a short term solution, but a long term fix. Chiropractic adjustments a.k.a spinal manipulation have helped millions each year find a permanent solution to their headaches. There are many different causes of headaches. It's certainly not in the scope of this post to discuss all of them, but I will try and educate you on some common causes and ones that can easily be prevented and corrected.

Posture. Why is it important and how are headaches connected to it? In today's world of industrialization, we have gone from active bipedal organisms to lazy stagnant organisms. The transition from state A to state B has taken place in a relatively short period of time. So understandably our body hasn't adapted to this change. Sitting in front of a computer all day at work or watching tv for long hours or worse, texting and sending emails from our smartphone has led to poor posture which puts a lot of strain on our spine especially our necks. Like stated in my previous post, our spine is the protective packaging for our nervous system. The nerves that supply our body all come out of the spinal column so understandably stress on the spine will cause unnecessary stress on the nerves which will create a dysfunction in the body. Approximately 70-80% of patients who present to my clinic with headaches have a postural etiology or cause, whether it be cervicogenic (originating from the neck joints), muscular trigger points or actual nerve compression. Even when a patient presents with a true migraine headache, correcting their posture helps reduce the intensity and frequency of their headaches. That is why chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulations are so effective in helping relieve and cure headaches. It addresses the root cause. It resets our joints, causes the muscles to relax and release endorphins. Along with chiropractic adjustments it is critical to perform posture correcting exercises. It is the only way to sustain the benefits of the adjustments. Your chiropractor can assess your posture and give you custom exercises to help correct the imbalance. The key is to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles.

Exercise. Our body is like a perfect machine. To remain well oiled and in good shape you need to use it. The phrase "Use it or Lose it" is the best way to explain it. Exercise causes a release of feel good hormones and neurotransmitters in our body like endorphins, serotonin etc. These hormones give us a sense of well being, decrease pain and promote good health. Besides releasing these hormones, it also helps regularize our bodily functions including regulating blood pressure and improving vascularity of tissues such as tight muscles. You can clearly see why its a key player in helping prevent headaches.

Water. Its what we are made of! Without this essential compound we cannot exist. Our body is 50-70% water. So its easy to understand why we need to keep well hydrated in order to survive and thrive. The human body is very forgiving. It lets us get away with a lot before blowing the emergency bell! But it certainly gives us hints, to let us know that its being ignored or not looked after. Headaches could be an early warning sign that you are dehydrated.

Salt. It's an essential electrolyte that helps govern majority of our bodily functions. We virtually add it to all our food. But like all things in excess, salt can also be damaging to the body. With the introduction of junk food and packaged foods our intake of salt is at an all time high. There is a direct correlation between high salt intake and heart disease and high blood pressure. Sudden increases in blood pressure can cause a surge of blood entering our "head quarters" (brain). Headaches can be a warning sign for this surge. With that said, adequate salt intake is absolutely necessary. Low salt levels can also lead to dysregulated blood pressure, muscle cramps and a level of dehydration. 

Blood Sugar. Now I'm not referring to the sugar in candy and all processed goods but about good complex carbohydrates; nutrients that help maintain a healthy energy supply to our body to function properly. The brain as an organ primarily uses carbohydrates, good or bad. Good carbohydrates or "good sugars" is a preferred energy source. In our busy schedules we tend to eat erratically and eat junk food with empty calories (foods low in nutrition) and cause unnecessary spikes in our blood sugar levels with processed foods. Chronic high levels of blood sugar lead to conditions like diabetes where these essential nutrients that we consume don't enter our cells and provide the energy that we need in order to work properly. Headaches can be caused by this imbalance in blood sugar levels.

To summarize this post and help you remember key tips for getting rid of majority of your headaches, here goes:

1. Get your posture assessed and corrected with:

  • Chiropractic Adjustments or Spinal Manipulation

  • Posture correcting exercises - stretching and strengthening

2. Aerobic Exercise - brisk walk, swimming at least 30-45 min daily.

3. Drink plenty of water - at least 8-10 glasses daily.

4. Monitor your salt intake. Eat fresh fruits and veggies and avoid packaged processed foods. Most foods have salt naturally, so minimize adding too much salt for flavour, instead add herbs etc for flavouring.

5. Eat balanced meals including complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It will prevent spikes in blood sugar and provide a steady supply of energy.

If you are a headache sufferer or know someone who is, hopefully this post gave you an insight into the common causes of headaches. Your headaches are in your control. Don't let them dictate your life, instead empower yourself and lead a pain-free life without them. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me or leave a comment at the end of the post. I will do my best to get back to you. As always stay healthy, stay well adjusted!

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