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Oh, My Aching Head! Try These 8 Headache Relievers First

Oh, My Aching Head! Try These 8 Headache Relievers First

Into every life a few aches and pains fall.  According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache. Before you reach for a bottle of pain killers, try these pain relievers first.

Understanding the Types of Primary Headaches

There is a lot of confusion over the types of primary headaches, those not caused by another issue, e.g. sinus headaches.  Many people claim to have a migraine, when what they really have is a tension headache.  The level of pain does not determine the diagnosis.

A tension headache is the most common type of headache and is characterized by pain that affects the whole head. Some sufferers experience the pain in the back of the head; others feel it across the forehead.  Some people report a sensation like a tight band around the head or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.  Even though tension headache sufferers may  be sensitive to light and sound, tension headaches tend to grow in intensity, which gives sufferers time to counter. They are typically not incapacitating.

There is a misconception that “migraine” means severe headache.  While migraines can be painful, the name refers to a type of headache. Migraines result from specific physiologic changes in the brain that lead to pain. Those changes are fluctuations in certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that send messages between brain cells.  Regular hormone fluctuations can be a trigger.  Then again, so can consumption of certain foods or a simple change in barometric pressure.  Migraine headaches are associated with symptoms such as: nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blind spots, pain on one side of the head, numbness or weakness in the limbs. After puberty, migraines affect more women than men.

Cluster headaches tend to occur daily for periods of a week or more with long spans with no symptoms between episodes.  They are caused by a sudden release of histamines and serotonin in the brain.  Sufferers may experience symptoms like sharp pain behind one eye, one eye gets watery or inflamed, and/or the sufferer experiences a runny nose.  This type of headache affects more men than women.

Headache remedies to try before reaching for a pill

If you’re like many of our patients, you prefer to only use medication as a last resort.  Here are some remedies and treatments to try before reaching for that pain killer.  (Did you know that overusing pain killers can make subsequent pain feel more intense?)

1 – Drink 16-32 oz of  Water

Cigna Health reports that 75 percent of  Americans are chronically dehydrated.  Health Factors suggests that 80% of all headaches are caused by dehydration. The idea is that dehydration causes blood volume to drop, which results in less oxygen rich blood flow to the brain and dilation of blood vessels and triggers the sensation of pain.  So make sure you and your children drink enough pure water daily!  What’s enough? Try this formula: Body weight/2 = Minimum number of ounces to drink daily.

2 – Essential Oil

Urban Zen

A couple drops of peppermint oil could put your headache on the run.

Some headache sufferers experience relief by rubbing a bit of peppermint oil on their temples and on their necks.

3 – Cold Therapy

Apply a cold compress to the area for 15 minutes to slow blood flow and reduce inflammation. (Conversely, others find relief with warm compress therapy, but this is Dr. Duddey Sportscare, where we cheer for Elsa in Frozen, Frosty the Snowman, and the Snow Miser!)

4 – Peppermint Tea

If your headaches include a little nausea, go for a cup of peppermint tea.  Peppermint has been used for millennia to calm muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.  And herbal tea will also help rehydrate you.

5 – Acupuncture

Acupuncture effectively relieves chronic headaches.

Acupuncture effectively relieves chronic headaches.

While it may take a few treatments to dial it in, acupuncture can help chronic headache sufferers by reducing muscle tension and  encouraging the release of painkilling endorphins.

6 – Activity

If you’ve been sitting in the same position for hours, it’s time to get up and get the blood flowing! Stretch periodically throughout the day

7 – Chiropractic Care

Regularly scheduled chiropractic care has helped many people overcome chronic headaches.

Regularly scheduled chiropractic care has helped many people overcome chronic headaches.

Your chiropractor can use a variety of treatments to offer relief to the headache sufferer.  At a minimum, your chiropractor adjust your spine relieving any impinged nerves or rotated vertebrae.  Massage or physical therapy treatments may be added to address muscle tightness and spasms to offer relief.

8 – Coffee

Sipping a small cup of coffee can provide the right amount of caffeine  to block the neurotransmitter adenosine, which causes blood vessels to dilate and create pain-causing pressure. Caffeine constricts those vessels and relieves pain.  This method is effective for people who consume about 150 mg of caffeine (about a 12 ounce coffee) daily. If you are a coffee achiever, your blood vessels may not be as responsive.

 

 

 

Sources that helped inform this article:

  • medicinenet.com
  • webmd.com
  • New York Times, Really? The Claim: To Prevent Migraines, Drink More Water, 8/15/2011
  • RealSimple.com
  • CignaBehavioral.com
  • HealthFactors.com

 

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Good News For Your Aching Feet – Plantar Fasciitis Home Treatment

Oh, your aching feet! Specifically, your heels!  If you’re experiencing foot pain, you very well may be suffering from plantar fasciitis (say “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus) or a really grouchy, strained, inflamed plantar fascia.

This protocol is for home use and is intended to help aide in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the strong fibrous connective tissue that is located under the arch of the foot becomes inflamed and irritated. This is most often due to overuse whether from standing, walking, running or wearing shoes that due not support the longitudinal arch of the foot. It extends from the front of the heel bone to the base of the toes.

 

When the plantar fasciitis gets irritated it causes pain while weight bearing particularly in the morning or when initiating exercise. Plantar fasciitis left untreated can lead to heel spurs that may require surgery. Plantar fasciitis may subside over time with rest but if it persists, these suggestions that can be done at home will help alleviate the pain.

 

First, heat the area for 15-20 minutes using a warm bath or heating pad. This helps soften the tissues as well as bring extra blood flow to the plantar fascia.

 

Then, while seated roll a golf ball under the arch of the foot from the front of the heel to the base of the toes using moderate pressure. If you find a particularly tender area, you can concentrate pressure in this area. Do this for 5 minutes, then repeat on the other side.

 

Next, stretch the calf muscles is essential to relieving the strain on the plantar fascia. Do this by sitting with your leg extended forward, then pull the toes back towards your body using a belt or a towel with your leg straight for thirty seconds and repeat three times. Then bend your knee approximately 30 degrees and repeat the stretch three times for thirty seconds.

 

Lastly, ice the plantar fascia buy rolling a frozen water bottle under the foot while seated. By freezing a plastic water bottle it is easy and convenient to ice the area from the base of the heel to the balls of the feet. Since the ice is being applied directly to the plantar fascia, 5-7 minutes is all that is necessary, but may be repeated several times per day to reduce inflammation.

 

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