The headache does not come from our brain— your brain cannot feel pain. In fact, during brain surgery the patient is often wide awake and feeling nothing. The “ache” in headache is created by the non-brain structures like the blood vessels, membranes and cranial nerves in the brain and skull. When these structures are compressed, irritated, stretched, inflamed or infected headaches often result.
Common causes of headaches are any chemical, physical or emotional stress that the body cannot withstand which creates physical distortion of the structural system housing the nervous system. This structural distortion that puts pressure on the nerves creates inflammation and causes muscles to knot and tighten, weakening the body and creating fatigue, is called a subluxation. A subluxation is a minor (sub) misalignment (luxation) in the space and can create serious harm to the body—sometimes for years—without knowledge. Headache sufferers generally respond well to Chiropractic care because most headache sufferers appear to be carrying around subluxations and don’t even know it. In many cases headache sufferers have had previous neck damage in the form of falls or whiplash that have gone untreated.
In a randomized controlled trial performed at the University of Odense, Denmark, those under Chiropractic care decreased their use of painkillers by 36% and the number of headache hours per day decreased by 69%.
How long will it take? It depends. Some patients report dramatic relief after just one adjustment. Others may take months of care to finally resolve them because everyone is different. An analysis of 47 studies of Chiropractic for headaches, neck pain and upper back pain revealed that it took (on average) 7.7 visits to see a 46.5% improvement in these conditions, and 17 visits to completely resolve them. (JVSR.Aug 21, 2008;1-2)
How does Chiropractic affect headaches? For many years it has been said that the DC after Doctor of Chiropractic’s name also stands for “Doctor of Cause”—chiropractors correct the cause of the patients health problems rather than give painkillers and other drugs which only treat the symptoms.
A team of surgeons may have found one of the answers as to why chiropractic works so well. They discovered a small neck muscle that connects to brain membranes. When the neck is out of alignment, this muscle can actually pull on the brain! As the lead surgeon writes: “An increasing body of literature relates headaches to pathology affecting the cervical spine and a number of clinical trials have demonstrated that chiropractic is valuable for managing headaches.” (Abstract from the 15th annual Upper Cervical Spine Conference Nov 21-22, 1998 CRJ 1999: V1(1))