Headaches and Migraines

One of the most common conditions we successfully treat at Graham Chiropractic and Acupuncture are headaches. They vary in the symptoms, location, duration (how long they last), frequency (how often they happen), intensity (how bad they are) and underlying cause, but they are never pleasant.

Tension headaches are the most common, but migraines are also very common and have a complicated group of symptoms that make them different from other headaches. Most people with frequent or severe headaches tend to suffer from more than one type, which can make correct diagnosis and effective treatment more challenging. Patients who have been diagnosed with migraines often suffer from tension headaches, and may also have sinus headaches related to allergies — especially here in North Carolina.

It‘s not necessary to quit your existing medication to benefit from acupuncture and chiropractic care. However, many patients find they can eliminate certain medicines or decrease dosage (while consulting with the prescribing doctor) once they improve thanks to chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

Tension headaches

Tension headache symptoms include dull, achy pain. Some patients report a “tight band” across the forehead or pressure or tension in the back of the head or upper neck. It is not common to have nausea, vomiting, visual changes or sensitivity to sound with tension headaches, but a small percentage of tension headache sufferers may experience nausea sometimes. Tension headaches tend to be frequent and can interfere with work, recreation and family life.

There are two distinct categories of tension headaches, episodic and chronic. Episodic headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week and can occur every day. If tension headaches occur for more than 15 days out of a month for a minimum of 3 months, they are considered chronic.

The most common treatments for tension headaches are over the counter medication such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, BC or Goody’s Powder. However, if these OTC drugs or prescription pain drugs are used too often or for too long, they can CAUSE headaches!  These are called analgesic rebound headaches and are often accompanied by ringing in the ear (tinnitus). 

Migraine headaches

Migraines are different than tension headaches in that they can have an aura, which is either a visual disturbance such as flashing lights or zigzag lines, or a loss of vision in one eye. Auras can occur from a few minutes up to hours before the migraine’s onset. Most auras last 5-30 minutes, or even less. Only 25-30% of migraine patients have an aura as a warning the migraine is about to begin. 

There are several types of migraines.  Common migraines (migraine without aura) are the most frequently diagnosed and usually have a severe throbbing or pounding one-sided headache, pain behind the eye, nausea, light sensitivity and sensitivity to sound. These can last a few hours to several days.

Classical migraines (migraines with aura) are common migraines that include an aura. Another migraine variant is called migraine without headache, and it consists of all other symptoms WITHOUT a headache!

There are more rare forms of migraines such as retinal migraines and migraines with brainstem aura.  While rare, these types of headaches mimic stroke symptoms and need further diagnostic imaging, such as an MRI and more extensive evaluation. Patients who have headache after a head injury should seek emergency care immediately. 

At Graham Chiropractic and Acupuncture, we take a conservative yet comprehensive approach to headaches.

Most people with headaches that are persistent have more than one kind of headache. We have the experience and tools to evaluate and treat multiple types of headaches at the same time. This approach allows us to treat a tension headache and a migraine on the same visit with different techniques to get better results. 

Patients frequently report significant relief with even one treatment. Just taking pills is not a long-term solution. Combining natural techniques such as chiropractic, acupuncture, dry needling and a good homecare plan is a more effective and healthier approach, and can be very affordable.

Call (336) 229-4345 today, and receive a FREE consultation!