Chiropractic Care Can Treat Headaches

Chiropractics care can help treat a variety of different problems, from muscle pain from sports injuries to headaches brought on by stress. This is particularly useful for millions of people across the country who have to deal with headaches at one time or another. Chronic headaches can be a serious problem, affecting a person’s ability to simply make it through the day, but seeking chiropractic care can help.

by Daniel Hough, DC

Cause and treatment of Migrane Headaches

It is estimated that betweem 15-20% of the male population and 25-30% of female population suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines, or vascular headaches, are divided into several types: common( without an aura) or classic ( with a peceding aura, usually visual)  , complicated ( neurological symptoms are present). cluster headaches ( so named because they present in cluster, sometimes with long periods betweem episodes. Regardless of the type, the etiology is the same.

At the level of the first and second cervical vertebrae is two to three centemiter long structure called the superior cervical sympathetic ganglion  (SCSG). This structure controls smooth muscles of the head. Postganglionic fibers travel upward from SCSG and enter the crenium along with the internal carotid arteries through the cartilage-filled foraman lacerum, which is located anterior and lateral to foraman magnum and just  foward of the first cervical vertebrae.

The superior cervical sympathetic ganglion controls blood vessels diameter in the head and in the dialator pupillae muscles, which dialate the pupil of the eye. Subluxation of the first cervical vertebrae/ occipital articulation can narrow the foraman lacerum ang put on pressureon the postganglionic sympathetic nerves, causing those nerve fire. This leads to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the head and dialation of the pupil, which accounts for photophobia many migraine sufferers experience.

Controversial Medical Treatment

Imitrex injections or pills are the most widely prescribed allopathic treatment for migraine headaches. However, Imitrex does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches; it is only palliative. Imitrex is very expensive, costing approximietaly $ 75 per injection . The PDR ( pocket Guide to Perscription Drugs) lists many serious side effects from Imitrex, including fatal allergic reactions and heart failure.

Woman are often told by their medical doctors that their medical doctors that their headaches are “hormonal”. Prior to the beginning of menses, many woman expierience systemic inflamation ( premenstrual syndrome) due to increased prostoglandin release. This inflamation furthur compromises the already narrow foraman lacerum putting pressure on postganglionic nerve fibers resulting in vascular headaches. Eliminating vasoactive substances from diet ( coffee, chocolate, red  wine,0monosodium glutamate ). These vasoactive substances result in dilation of the internal carotid arteries puttin pressure on the nerves.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic treatment ( adjustment to  first cervical/occipital articulation ) eliminates migraine headaches by repositioning the occiput upon first cervical vertebrae, removing pressure on the postganglionic sympathetic nerve fibers that pass through the foraman lacerum. I find the occipital lift to be the most effective adjustment for this subluxation. Most patients are headches free in four to six visits, including adjustments and massage of the suboccipital muscules. Ergonomic changes are sometimes necessary to avoid refixation of the  C0/ C1 articulation.