Free Headache advice and tips from a Chiropractor.
This headache is giving me a headache!
Hi. My name's Dr. Greg and I am a Chiropractor. Well, I was. I don't practice anymore because I have devoted myself to writing (I have a part-time sales job right now too. Bills to pay and all that.) For more than 15 years I was in practice, and I took care of more than 10,000 individual patients in 3 different countries. I took care of spines in the USA for about 5 years, in Belgium for about 7, and in Peru for about 3. I can explain Chiropractic in 3 different languages! Yay me.
I can, after cracking many, many bones, tell you this; No matter the country or the culture, most people do not take care of their spinal column (their 'back' for you laymen) the way that they should. I think the main reason is that people don't actually see their back on a daily basis. I mean, we take care of our hair and our teeth and our skin, everything that we (and the outside world) can see, (we're very vain creatures we humans) but most people completely ignore their spine.
Until it hurts, that is.
What exactly is a Headache?
And why does the neck play a role in causing them?
A headache is experienced when various structures of the head and neck are irritated. The sensation of pain can be 'referred', which means the irritation in one area can transmit the feeling of pain via associated nerves to another area. A good example is neck pain leading to headache.
It is likely that nearly all of us will experience headache during our lifetimes. This is because headache is one of the most common illnesses in the United States, with around 15 per cent of the population taking painkillers for a headache at any given time. There are different types of headache and many different causes, which explains why the condition is so common. Recurring headaches can be caused by different factors working together.
About 40% of the population suffers from recurring, disabling and severe headaches.
What causes cervical spine (neck) problems?
In fact, many things do.
Many neck problems are caused by trauma, such as automobile accidents and sports injuries, but the fact is that the majority of neck problems are caused simply because the average person does not know how to properly take care of their spine and therefore does nothing to prevent spinal problems. Even if you never have an auto accident (the average is once every 10 years) or a sporting accident (once every 17 years) neck problems can be caused from a variety of seemingly innocuous activities that many of us engage in every day, including;
- Sitting in front of a computer for many hours on a regular basis.
- Watching TV, reading, working in a position that damages the normal neck curve.
- Standing for a long period of time.
- Sleeping on a bad mattress or in an improper position.
- Using a bad or improper pillow to sleep.
- Driving for many hours on a regular basis.
- Improper posture when sitting, standing or sleeping.
- Not drinking sufficient amounts of water.
- Lack of exercise and muscle stretching.
- A diet low in calcium and magnesium.
- Repetitive movements over many hours and years.
- Psychological stress.
- Carrying backpacks, handbags and other items incorrectly.
- Exercising improperly.
- A lack of stretching regularly
The NORMAL Cervical Curve.
The most important curve in your body.
The Normal Cervical spine has a curve that many Chiropractors refer to as the 'arc of life'. This 'lordotic' curve is very important to every aspect of our health because the nerves that exit the brain and connect your entire body to the brain must first pass through the cervical bones, or vertebra.
If these vertebra are not aligned correctly the resulting pressure on the nerves can cause not only pain but a myriad of health problems that can effect every organ and every function of your entire body.
A study in England found that people with an abnormal cervical curve lived shorter lives, proving that it truly is the 'curve of life'.
Here is an example of a Hypo Lordotic cervical curve.
Hypo = Less or under.
This is an X-Ray of a cervical spine that has suffered some type of trauma (possibly whiplash) and has lost the normal lordotic curve. It is now classified as hypo-lordotic as the curve is less than normal.
In this state the discs will start to degenerate at a rapid rate and then the vertebrae will also begin to degenerate. As the fragile spinal nerves that exit the spine here will become compressed, muscle contraction, spasm and pain will result.
A Reversed cervical curve can cause many health problems.
Because of damage to your vertebrae & nerves.
Many people suffering from headaches due to trauma have this type of neck problem. The curvature of the cervical spine is actually reversed, putting an immense amount of pressure on the nerves and discs.
This can cause damage to both in a very short time and many different health problems, including severe headache.
My surefire Home Remedy for most types of Headaches.
Step 1 - Some basics you need.
This is one of the best Home Remedies for Headaches that I know, and I have tried them all. Depending on the severity and the frequency of your headaches, the kind of work you do, and your age, this may completely cure your headache. If not cure completely this will definitely help your headaches and make them less frequent and more manageable.
2 Tools you will need.
A large bathroom towel rolled up tightly and kept rolled by a few rubber bands.
A 1 liter bottle of water that you will keep in the freezer all the time.
For ACUTE Headaches that you get once in a while.
When you have a headache, use the frozen bottle (with a light towel around it to protect your skin) and lie in the position to the left for 15 - 20 minutes. RELAX COMPLETELY.
Also, EVERY night, lie with your Rolled up TOWEL in this position for at least 30 minutes. You can lie in this position the ENTIRE night if you wish, but start off slowly and work your way up to that.
For CHRONIC Headaches you get all the time.
If you are suffering constantly from headaches you need to restore the cervical curve.
THIS TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE..
Lie in the position at right, starting at 5 minutes PER DAY and increasing the time 5 minutes every week until you can lie like this for 30 MINUTES per day.
Ask for help getting up the first few times, and when you do get up by yourself get up slowly and turn to your side first, then to a crouching position, and then to a stand.
Take it easy for a few minutes after you get up as you may feel dizzy. It's normal also to feel 'heat' in your neck and base of your skull.
Do this every day for 6 months or more if you really want to change your life and get rid of your headaches for good.
Take care of your Back.
Neck and back pain are two of the most prevalent health problems in the United States, affecting millions every year and costing billions of dollars in health care.
Some great products for relief of back pain.
The Curves of the Spine.
More important than you ever were told.
Scientists busy with the study of human anatomy and evolution will tell you that humans were never meant to walk upright and that our skeletal system just wasn't made for it. While that may be true, here we are walking upright and, much to our chagrin, causing ourselves back problems because of it. Add that to the fact that we work, play, and sleep in positions that are unhealthy for the spine and you get a recipe for disaster,
Right now, for example, I am in a seated position while writing. Because I have been a Chiropractor for a long time I am sitting in a position that is very 'spine healthy'. I know what position is best to make sure that my spine is OK and I'm not causing myself irreparable long-term damage to it.
The average person, on the other hand, is unknowingly destroying their spine when they do the same thing or other activities because they do those activities while using very poor posture.
Yep. When your Mom told you to 'sit up straight' she was actually giving you good advice and not just being a nag.
You see, the spinal column is system of bones that, when aligned correctly, are curved in 3 places. (See the picture above.) These curves are EXTREMELY important, not only for the the spine to stay healthy but for our overall health. The reason is that the nerves that form our nervous system and connect our brain with our bodies go directly through the spine. When the curves are correctly aligned there is enough space for the nerves to pass through without being pinched. (Nerves hate to be pinched. Just fyi.)
When the spine is NOT correctly curved the bones of the spine (the vertebra) can move out of place and put pressure on the nerves. With enough time the DISCS of the spine will degenerate, causing more pressure on the nerve as the bones move close together. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the cause of many types of pain, including low back pain, headaches, neck pain, tingling in the hands / feet, migraines, and many others.
Take it from me, you do NOT want pressure on your spinal nerves.
These bones are getting on my nerves!
Some basic Spinal Anatomy.
* The Spine has 3 Curves. Cervical (neck), Thoracic (back), Lumbar (low back)
* In between the bones are the Discs
* In between the bones and dics are the NERVES of the nervous system
* The nerves connect our brains with our bodies
* Proper posture will help our curves, which will help our discs, which will help our nerves, which is good for our health.
Pretty straightforward stuff, yes. If the spine is aligned well, and the vertebra are in their proper positions. the nerves won't get pinched and everything will be great. Take care of your spine and you'll never have any back pain. But that's the rub. Very few people take care of their spines.
When we sit, stand, read, write, watch TV, play video games, surf the web, lift a box, type a letter, and many other activities we do it with nary a thought for our posture or our spines. Many of us work every day while using bad posture. Secretaries, truck drivers, hairdressers, dentists, painters, lawyers, whoever. We sit, stand, work and sleep incorrectly, causing the normal curvature of the spine to be forced out of place over and over again for hours on end. Over days and weeks and months and years this can actually cause physical changes to the spine and all of her structures, damage to those structures, pressure on the spinal nerves and PAIN. Lots of pain.
Most people have no idea they are causing this damage, especially younger folk. A slight headache here and there, a little low back pain, maybe even a little numbness. Symptoms for a few days, you take a few aspirin and the pain 'goes away'. Many do this same routine for years before their symptoms start to get out of hand. Problem is, by that time it may already be too late to fix the problem.
Some of the BENEFITS of Good Posture.
There are many reasons to sit up straight.
Benefits of Good Posture
1.It's a subtle exercise for your back and abs. Holding a good posture takes effort and makes you use and strengthen the muscles in your back and abs.
2.It greatly improves your breathing. A good posture makes room for your lungs to function at their best - rather than being squashed when you hold your body in a slouch. Good lung function will have a healthy impact on all aspects of the body's function.
3.It'll protect your organs, bones, joints and muscles. Holding a correct posture will help reduce unnecessary strain and pressure on these body parts which occurs when the body is placed in an uncomfortable and unnatural position. Many neck and back pains develop from issues of poor posture.
4.It'll protect your spine. Often the spine will become fixed in an abnormal position if we do not hold ourselves correctly. This can lead to the constriction of blood vessels and nerves and problems with the joints, discs and muscles. The spine is an important part of the body to take care of - a good posture eliminates many of the health problems that can develop when the spine has unhealthy mobility.
5.It prevents arthritis. Often when we have a poor posture, we place pressure on our joints in unnatural ways which leads to them wearing down abnormally. This in turn can lead to arthritis. A good posture gives our joints the chance to function at their best.
6.It helps you use your muscles more efficiently. This happens because your bones and joints will be in the correct alignment. As a result, you are likely to feel more energetic since your body will require less energy to move about.
7.It can have a dramatic impact on the way you feel. When people hold themselves in a good posture, rather than a slumped one, they send signals to their brain that makes them feel happier and more confident. It'll also change the way that people see you - you'll appear more confident and assertive too. And it could even make you look thinner since you'll be using your abs to draw in your stomach muscles and will appear taller.
Good tips to help you maintain a good posture include holding your head straight without letting it tilt forward, backward or sideways. You should keep your shoulders back, your knees and your back straight, with your stomach tucked in. Do not tilt your pelvis forward and make sure the arches in your feet are supported. Stretch the top of your head towards the ceiling so that you stand tall.
Proper posture while sitting at a desk. - The best gift you can give yourself.
POSTURE Do's and DON'Ts while Sitting at a Desk.
- Raise your computer to eye level or slightly higher.
- Use a high quality ergonomically designed chair.
- Have your chair at the right height so your eyes are level with your screen and your knees are slightly lower than your hip joints.
- Let your wrists rest on the desk.
- Have you computer in front of you, NOT to the side.
- Let your feet sit flat on the floor, NOT tucked under your chair.
- Keep your shoulders and back relaxed.
- Take regular breaks away from your PC.
- Fix your eyes on the screen for long periods of time.
- Lift your shoulders when typing or clicking the mouse.
- Have any equipment where you must twist sideways constantly to access it.
- Collapse your neck as you read the screen.
- Use your PC in low light conditions.
The home massager with professional results.
There is nothing like a great massage. I would know, because I have worked with massage therapists for over 15 years and my wife is also a trained shiatsu massage therapist. Massage has always been a core service in all of my Chiropractic offices, and Thumper has always been a name and a brand that I could trust.
More Tips for Taking Care of your BACK.
-Make your home and work environment as safe as possible. Attend to anything that can be tripped over, slipped on, fallen off easily, in order to minimize risks.
-Build up muscular strength and flexibility. Your neck muscles and shoulder muscles work together in order to give your cervical spine support and strength. Strength and flexibility in your neck, shoulders and mid back will help towards maintaining good cervical bone alignment.
-Regular exercise is very important. Swimming walking and cycling allow your muscles to function better. Remember, consult your doctor if you are at all worried about new forms of exercise.
-Avoid prolonged standing. Try to avoid standing or bending over for long periods.
-A good quality, firm mattress. It is important to get a mattress that provides enough back support. Get a medium-firm mattress rather than a very firm mattress. Use pillows to support the neck, but not to the extent they push your head neck into odd angles.
-Lifting, load carrying, and your back Poor lifting and carrying techniques are the most common and most avoidable causes of back injury and pain. Never carry loads that are too heavy. Work places are legally obliged to provide appropriate equipment for you to carry out your work. See your boss if you feel you are at risk. Make sure that when you do lift you keep your back straight and bend at the knees to weight-bear. If you think you may have trouble lifting something get help. Don't risk back injury.
-Weight gain and back problems Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight it puts a tremendous strain on the back muscles. Losing weight can make a dramatic difference to back pain and discomfort. Losing weight makes you more energetic.
-Smoking and back problems Smoking causes diminished levels of oxygen levels to spinal tissues. Diminished oxygen levels can hinder the healing processes if you get a spinal injury.
Top 11 things you can do to Prevent Headaches.
And Back Pain too.
1) Engage in low-force exercise (bicycling, swimming, rowing, Yoga) at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes minimum.
2) Sleep on you back (#1) or your side (#2) using a good quality, firm mattress and pillow.
3) Drink LOTS of Water. 8 to 10 glasses a day. Room temperature is best.
4) STRETCH frequently during the day, especially if you have a desk job. Also before exercising.
5) Use proper posture when sitting, standing and sleeping.
6) Eat food high in calcium (dark green veggies) and take a calcium supplement.
7) Keep your weight under control. Obesity causes a lot of strain on the spine.
8) Carry book bags correctly centered using both shoulders.
9) Meditate regularly. A calm mind is a great boon to the spine and your overall health.
10) Go to a Chiropractor at least once a month even if you don't have 'back pain'.
11) Don't smoke or drink too much alcohol. Both can harm the inter-vertebral discs.
Water water everywhere, but no one wants to drink.
Tips for a healthy spine. (Finally!)
But wait Doc, didn't you say you were going to give tips and advice about headaches?
Yes, yes I did. Now that you know how important posture is it is time for me to dispense with the free advice. Take notes boys and girls, this is going to be good stuff.
MY #1 TIP for HEADACHE (and back pain) sufferers: DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
Now, before you say 'Aw gee whiz Doc that's not gonna help my back pain' let me tell you something. If you drink enough water you WILL feel the difference, your discs WILL begin to heal and your pain WILL GET BETTER. Just from drinking water. So do it and quit your belly aching. The average woman needs 6 glasses a day, the average man 8. I personally drink between 12 and 15 glasses every single day. Actually, besides a bit of fruit juice and the occasional beer I drink almost nothing else. I cannot stress the importance of water if you are suffering from pain due to back problems. It helps the discs, lubricates the muscles, and even helps nerve conduction. It's also necessary for practically EVERY SINGLE FUNCTION OF THE HUMAN BODY. Milk doesn't do a body good, WATER DOES !
So drink your water. It will help, I promise.
Do you drink enough water every day? - It's cheap, natural, calorie free and incredibly important.
Very few people drink enough water and yet it is the most important liquid for a healthy body and a healthy spine. The SPINAL DISCS are more than 80% water ! If you don't drink enough they can lose shrivel up and degenerate. Does that sound healthy? Nope.
Do you drink 8 glasses of pure water every day?
Stretch and stretch and stretch.
Then stretch some more.
OK, so now you're fully hydrated. What next?
Tip #2 - Stretching. It's easy, quick, painless (mostly) and can even be fun.
I practiced Yoga for a number of years. These days not so much but I still use a couple of Yoga moves almost every day to help me stay limber and keep the old muscles from getting too stiff.
The spinal muscles need to stay limber and, well, stretchy, in order to stay healthy. Many of us have our exercise routines to 'keep in shape' but if I had my druthers I would tell everyone to stop worrying about having big, strong muscles and start worrying about having loose, flexible muscles. The looser and more flexible the better.
I stretch in the morning using basic yoga and stretching techniques. The 2 positions I like best are 'downward facing dog' and 'cobra', both of which are EXCELLENT for the spine. I also stretch my neck using a circular motion while I am in the shower using hot water. Feels great and keeps my neck nice and supple. I stretch SLOWLY and CAREFULLY (did you notice the emphasis there?) for about 15 minutes a day. I think that anybody who is suffering back pain or wants to AVOID back pain can give up a measly 15 minutes a day, don't you agree?
I'm not a Yoga expert so please get some assistance with this. I would suggest a beginner course on yoga, or join a class at the local gym.
No matter what you do, if you make stretching a normal part of you daily routine your spine will thank you for it.
YOGA - One of the best ways to prevent back problems. - And keep in great shape too.
Get an adjustment on a regular basis.
It really does do a body good.
Now that you understand a little bit more about the spine and how important it is I feel like it's time to make a plug for all my fellow Chiropractors still in the field. If you're suffering a good Chiropractor can be a godsend. (I go regularly myself.) If you aren't suffering that's good news. If you want to stay pain free Chiropractic should be a regular part of your health care regimen, along with exercise, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. The tips and info I have given you are fine if you aren't in really bad shape, but you shouldn't let them take the place of a regular adjustment. I recommend, if you're feeling good, an adjustment a month. I go every 3 weeks more or less.
I will be writing more in the future so check back on Squidoo for more tips on spinal health.