Chronic headaches are defined as “headaches that occur more than 15 days a month for more than three months.” It is estimated that chronic headaches affect 4% – 5% of the worldwide population! Also known as chronic daily headaches, these headaches affect twice as many women as men.
Chronic Headaches and migraines may be caused by a misalignment or dysfunction of a vertebra in the top of the neck. This then causes inflammation and tension of the joints, muscles and blood vessels at the base of the neck, which then transfers pain up into the skull.
There are four different types of chronic headaches:
Chronic tension headaches often develop after starting out as episodic tension headaches. Symptoms include mild to moderate pain on both sides of the head that feels like a tightening sensation. Nausea and sensitivity to light might also be present. (See related article, Tension Headaches Are Common; A Natural Solution Can Change That!)
Chronic migraine headaches usually begin as episodic migraines without an aura. Chronic migraine symptoms include severe throbbing pain that usually affects only one side of the head. Nausea/vomiting and light/sound sensitivity might also be present. (See related article,Migraine Headaches: All-Natural Care Can Relieve Chronic Pain)
Daily, persistent headaches usually start without warning and occur every day. Pain occurs on both sides of the head and mild nausea and/or light and sound sensitivity can accompany the pain.
Hemicrania continua headaches are characterized by continuous moderate pain on one side of the face. Other symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, droopy eyelid and red teary eye on same side of the head as the pain. The symptoms of this type of headache include characteristics of tension headaches, migraine headaches and cluster headaches.
Common causes of chronic headache:
Chronic headache have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.
Ninety-five 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,” says Dr. George B. McClelland, a doctor of chiropractic from Christiansburg, VA. “Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.”
Dangers of Drugs for chronic headache Treatment
Medical doctors generally treat chronic headache symptoms with medications, such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Regularly taking some of the most popular painkillers on the market [paracetamol, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen six or seven days per week over a two-year period] is linked to a much greater risk of stroke and heart attack from higher blood pressure, according to research from a large American study.
Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.
How to Relieve chronic headache Naturally:
Various techniques can be used to promote a sense of calmness in your mind, leading to stress reductions and improvements in blood pressure, heart rate and pan. Some of the most popular methods include meditation, biofeedback, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and visualization.
Research suggests adding acupuncture to normal care for headaches results in greater pain relief, and may also reduce headache frequency and intensity.
This ancient marital art, sometimes called “moving meditation,” involves slow, specific series of movements that help calm your mind and promote inner focus. Research suggests tai chi helps to reduce the impact of tension headaches.
Massage therapy has been found to help reduce the frequency of tension headaches, as well as reduce the intensity and duration of pain. Massages of the back, shoulders, head and neck, along with craniosacral therapy, which involves mobilisation of the skull and spine, may help relieve headache pain.
Headaches are characterized by a feeling of tenseness in the neck, shoulder and scalp. A few simple exercises to stretch these areas can help reduce the intensity of the headaches. Move your chin upwards and downwards, towards left and right alternately and bend the neck sideways towards each shoulder by turns. You can also try to slowly rotate the neck in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions to help the shoulder and neck muscles relax. This relaxation of the tense muscles will reduce the pain of the headache.
Patients suffering from various types of headaches undergo chiropractic adjustments, along with other chiropractic care methods including massage and trigger point therapy. These methods can either be done alone or in combination with one another to realign the skeletons and eliminate the cycle of pain. It can also help to release muscular tension that could bring about moderate to severe levels of pain.Patients of chronic headaches are recommended to undergo several sessions to find effective relief and treatment from their condition. This comes as a result of reducing the amount of nerve irritation and facilitate in muscle relaxation. For a more effective long-term treatment plan against headaches, chiropractors recommend regular exercise, stretching, proper posture, and relaxation techniques to help alleviate the pain and symptoms of this condition.
Research from Spine J 2010; February 10(2): 169-71. Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, et al
Discovered that chiropractic care is effective for treating chronic cervicogenic headache and reducing over-the-counter medication usage over the course of an 8 week session. More improvement was found in the group that received 2 treatments per week and these results were maintained at a 24 week follow up survey for both chiropractic groups.