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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
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.
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.
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:
- New York Times, Really? The Claim: To Prevent Migraines, Drink More Water, 8/15/2011
We told you things were going to get exciting when we moved to our new location. We are about proactively preserving wellness here. That’s why we encourage our patients to come in for regular maintenance checks.
Acupuncture is now offered at Dr. Duddey Wellness Center.
Last month we introduced you to our new acupuncturist, Milissa Gillen L.Ac., MAOM. Some of you met her in person at our last Wellness Talk and some of you scheduled an appointment. Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It’s based on the theory that energy, called chi (say “chee”), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians.
In a session, Milissa will talk with you about what you’re feeling or experiencing. Then, she’ll take your radial pulse and may palpate your abdomen. Next, based upon what you and your body has shared with her, Milissa will insert between five and 15 needles on various parts of your body. These needles are extremely fine. Think about the fine filament you might see in a mini light or fairy light. Once in place, the needles will stay in place for up to 45 minutes while you lean back and let your body do its work. During this time, patients have been known to experience tingling, warmth, coolness, buzzing or nothing at the insertion sites.
URBAN ZEN INTEGRATED THERAPIES
Urban Zen Integrated Therapy therapists use pure oils in their treatments.
We are excited to announce that we now offer Urban Zen Integrated Therapies at Dr. Duddey Sportscare Center. Urban Zen is an approach that treats the patient, not the disease. It combines eastern healing techniques, yoga therapy, essential oil therapy, nutrition, and contemplative care to address the needs of the patient.
Patients who add Urban Zen to their wellness program can expect to start off talking with their therapists to identify the issues they want to address. Therapy may include yoga poses, essential oil therapy, and Reiki.
Reiki is a Japanese technique to reduce stress and promote relaxation by channeling chi by laying hands on or just above the patient’s body. Some people report feeling “energy flowing” or “release” after a session.
We’re excited to bring these choices to you to add to your wellness regimen and hope you’ll schedule an appointment with either Milissa for Acupuncture or our friends at Urban Zen.
Stay tuned! There’s more to come.
Thanks to everyone who came out on October 10, 2014 to celebrate the official grand opening and stayed for the ribbon cutting with the folks from the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce. In addition to our wonderful patients, family and friends who came out to celebrate with us, we were also thrilled to have a number of local, county, and state officials take time from their busy schedules, too.
We also were able to introduce some of our new partners in wellness as well, including:
- Milissa Gillen L.Ac., MAOM our acupuncturist
- Urban Zen Integrated Therapies practitioners
- Juice Plus
- doTerra Essential Oils
Here are the pics! Of course, we’ll be adding to these as well and making them available on our Facebook page!
Dr. Duddey Sportscare Center is now open!
Thanks again to everyone who helped us celebrate!