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Medical Feature Article

Headaches can be Danger Signals

We think very little about headaches, yet they are very often the warning signals of some disease, which is developing within our bodies. It is therefore essential that the primary cause be located.

Headache is a symptom found in may conditions such as hypertension, infections, brain tumors, lesions of the mouth, sinus problems and many others. Muscle tension or stress-type headaches are the most common, and probably the most troublesome of all is the migraine headache.

A headache may indicate a problem within the structural elements of the neck. There may be a misaligned vertebra, which has slipped into an abnormal position causing pressure, which shows up as a headache. Sitting log hours at a desk, working at a computer, lifting heavy loads, over-exercising or not exercising at all may exert subtle pressures on the spine. The body will let us know it has tolerated enough abuse when it signals its distress though the onset of a headache.

The first task when a patient complains of a headache is to determine precisely what hurts. Headaches are usually described as “splitting� or “dull� and are located on top of the head, base of the skull, frontal, etc. Their type and location have a definite meaning. If the source of a recent headache is not clear, a CT scan of the brain may be ordered.

Regardless of the type of headache from which one suffers, the doctor of chiropractic with his scientific training is highly qualified to determine the cause. Studies are now being performed to determine chiropractic’s effectiveness in treating headaches. Dr. Gary Gerard, a medical physician and a leading headache researcher at the Medical College of Ohio, states, “I was not aware that chiropractic could provide results of such magnitude for cervicogenic (neck related), muscle contraction and /or migraine types of headaches. I strongly recommend to my M.D. colleagues that we accept that healthcare is truly multidisciplinary, and although medical physicians help many patients, so do chiropractic physicians.� It is apparent that Dr. Gerard realizes that it is not the type of care but the result that counts.

According to a U.S. Public Health Service Report, Americans spend 300 million dollars each year for headache remedies. These remedies usually give temporary relief only. Perhaps the headache is a signal that something has gone wrong or something is out of balance that could be helped by a doctor of chiropractic. Beyond providing specific treatment, the doctor of chiropractic can help in health maintenance by teaching patients to be more aware of their role in preventing problems through proper exercise and diet and learning techniques to relieve tension and stress.

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