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Headaches

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Headaches affect just about everyone at some point and they can present themselves in many different ways. Some people only experience pain in one part of their head or behind their eyes, some people experience a pounding sensation inside their whole head, and some people even experience nausea, while others do not. The pain itself may be dull or sharp and may last for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Fortunately, very few headaches have serious underlying causes, but those that do require urgent medical attention.

Although headaches can be due to a wide variety of causes, such as drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tightness in the neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, the majority of recurrent headaches are of two types: tension headaches (also called cervicogenic headaches) and migraine headaches. There is a third, less common, type of headaches called a cluster headache that is a cousin to the migraine.

Chiropractic Care for Headaches

Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck.

A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that "spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications." These findings support an earlier study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found spinal manipulative therapy to be very effective for treating tension headaches. This study also found that those who stopped chiropractic treatment after four weeks continued to experience a sustained benefit in contrast to those patients who received pain medication.

Each individual's case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of chiropractic care can be determined. However, in most cases of tension headaches, significant improvement is accomplished through manipulation of the upper two cervical vertebrae, coupled with adjustments to the junction between the cervical and thoracic spine. This is also helpful in most cases of migraine headaches, as long as food and lifestyle triggers are avoided as well.

Headache Trigger Points

Trigger point therapy for headaches tends to involve four muscles: the Splenius muscles, the Suboccipitals, the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and the Trapezius. The Splenius muscles are comprised of two individual muscles - the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. Both of these muscles run from the upper back to either the base of the skull (splenius capitis) or the upper cervical vertebrae (splenius cervicis). Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common cause of headache pain that travels through the head to the back of the eye, as well as to the top of the head.

The Suboccipitals are actually a group of four small muscles that are responsible for maintaining the proper movement and positioning between the first cervical vertebra and the base of the skull. Trigger points in these muscles will cause pain that feels like it's inside the head, extending from the back of the head to the eye and forehead. Often times it will feel like the whole side of the head hurts, a pain pattern similar to that experienced with a migraine.

The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle runs from the base of the skull, just behind the ear, down the side of the neck to attach to the top of the sternum (breastbone). Although most people are not aware of the SCM trigger points, their effects are widespread, including referred pain, balance problems and visual disturbances. Referred pain patterns tend to be deep eye pain, headaches over the eye and can even cause earaches. Another unusual characteristic of SCM trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea and unbalance.

The trapezius muscle is the very large, flat muscle in the upper and mid back. A common trigger point located in the very top of the Trapezius muscle refers pain to the temple and back of the head and is sometimes responsible for headache pain. This trigger point is capable of producing satellite trigger points in the muscles in the temple or jaw, which can lead to jaw or tooth pain.

Avoid Headache Triggers

  • Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
  • Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
  • Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
  • Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
  • Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.
  • Headache can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
  • Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.

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  • ""Dr. Ofek is a great listener who gets to know his patients so he can provide the treatment that’s best for them. He’s patient and I have never felt rushed in his office. Definitely recommend, especially for continued chiropractic care.""
    Leah
  • ""Dr. Ofek is so kind and caring. I came in with a back issue and within a week I could sleep again! He takes his time, is flexible, and I never feel rushed. Incredible chiropractor!""
    Patrick
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    T. G.
  • ""Dr Ofek is amazing with his knowledge of the body and has help me out over the years. He always listens and adjusts the treatment to address my current problem. His office is clean and welcoming for babies, kids, teens and adults. You need a chiropractor ? Ofek is the best try him out!!!""
    Cheri
  • ""I started getting chiropractic care from Dr. Ofek when I was trying to get pregnant. I was told it could help after many doctors visits with fertility doctors that gave us little hope. Dr. Ofek was great and took the time with me to understand my situation and explain things to me. Not long after I started I indeed got pregnant naturally and have a beautiful baby girl now. Thanks Ofek Chiropractic.""
    Lyndsey
  • ""Dr. Ofek is wonderful! He is always accommodating and listens so well. My husband and I take our kids, ages 9 months-6 years when we go. I truly believe treatment, in conjunction with a couple of other changes, have improved our son's behavior. He was acting out in anger and violence before and is so much happier now. We go regularly and feel better because of it. And Dr. Ofek is so patient with my loud, busy kids. :)""
    Emily
  • ""We began seeing Dr. Amit for my 8 week old son mainly because he had an externally rotated foot. He also was not sleeping well on his back due to reflux. Dr. Amit took the time to listen to and address our concerns. He carefully and compassionately treated our son, explaining the process with every visit. We have been getting regular adjustments for about a month now and have already noticed some improvement in his foot. He is much happier and sleeping longer while lying on his back and his range of motion in his neck has greatly improved. I’d definitely recommend Dr. Amit for your family chiropractic needs.""
    Rose
  • ""I had been struggling with back pain for years and had given up all hope before I found Dr. Ofek. The fact that I can make it through a shift at work without being in pain is so empowering. I would recommend Chiropractic work to anyone any age who desires to find and maintain optimal health!""
    Mattie
  • ""I came to Dr. Ofek at 38 weeks pregnant in desperation because i couldn't walk without assistance. the pelvic pain and lower back pain was unbearable i wasn't sleeping. Went to hospital and because i wasn't in labor there was nothing they could do. I went and got adjusted and instantly felt a whole lot better!!! I could walk without it feeling like my hips and pelvic bones were gonna break. I went back 3 days in a row and it made a world of difference. I delivered my baby 3 days later. I'm going back today only 3 days after delivery to get everything back in line.""
    Amy
  • "Dr. Ofek was such an important part of my healthcare during my pregnancy. Although I was seeing a chiropractor, by the start of my 3rd trimester I was having extreme low back pain and was having trouble walking and getting through the day. I have a very active job and was worried I would have to stop working early which would limit my time at home with my baby after delivery. I switched practices and started to work with Dr. Ofek. By the 3rd visit I was feeling much better. After a few more visits I started to feel better than ever. I went on a two mile hike at 39 weeks and enjoyed every minute of it! Now I tell everyone I meet about the amazing effectiveness of the Webster technique and how much I appreciate Dr. Ofek.""
    Heather
  • ""We have been taking my 3.5 month old son to Dr. Ofek for a few weeks now to correct a flat spot on his head and to help with the fact that he was only turning his head to one side. After just a couple sessions I started to see improvement. My sons neck strength is much better now and he willingly turns his head both ways, even while sleeping!""
    Ruch
  • ""Dr. Ofek is the best! My son was born with torticollis (tightening of the neck muscle) on his left side which caused him to favor his right side and develop plagiocephaly. After many months of physical therapy, we had very little improvement with his torticollis. My son was facing possible surgery to fix the neck muscle and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I was very skeptical about taking my infant son to a chiropractor but Dr. Ofek was very knowledgeable of his condition and had tons of experience with babies. Within 3 weeks of seeing Dr. Ofek, my son graduated from physical therapy with absolutely no signs of torticollis and no need for surgery!!! He will also have his cranial helmet off next month that was needed to correct the plagiocephaly (flat spot) he developed in the process. I can't praise Dr. Ofek enough! He has been such a blessing to us!""
    Tiffany