From Dr. Natalie Meiri’s Clinical Pearl Stories:
Chiropractic Treatment for Chronic Headaches
Author: Natalie Meiri, D.C. Posted: 9/19/20
This was a 48 year old female patient with a chief complaint of chronic headaches. To be HIPAA compliant, I will call her Kate instead of her real name. Kate had migraine headaches since she was a teenager. She described it as a one sided (unilateral) throbbing headache. She would get sensory disturbances called an aura prior to her headaches which is suggestive of classic migraines. The auras were usually “blurriness and vision changes” in her eye. She used to only get migraine headaches once or twice a month or less which was manageable.
However, she had headaches almost everyday in the afternoon now for a year since she experienced stress and grief from a family member’s death. Her headaches lasted for several hours, causing her to seek a dark, quiet environment. These were more of a tension headache since it was (suboccipital/ bilateral) at the back of her head on both sides or around both her eyes (supraorbital/ bilateral). Kate also got the classic migraine type of headache once or twice a month.
In the past, she was active with chores around the house cleaning and cooking after work. She also enjoyed gardening, dinner with friends, or church activities during her leisure time after work. Currently, she just went home from work and went to sleep due to her headaches. Her condition seemed to be getting progressively worse and was disabling.
Moreover, migraine headaches with aura, ran in her family. Kate had a history of high blood pressure managed by her primary care doctor and several people in her family had died of a brain aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is weakness in a blood vessel in the brain that balloons and fills with blood, and can leak or rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding. Also, a key symptom of a ruptured aneurysm is a sudden, severe headache.
Upon examination she had tender trigger points and tight muscles in the neck. And her neck x-ray taken in my office showed degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis). In addition, I ordered a brain CT scan with contrast (injection of contrast material into a blood vessel for evaluation) to rule out any more serious conditions that could be causing her headaches such as tumors or a TIA (transient ischemic attack or stroke that lasts only a few minutes). After all, the headaches were severe and she had a family history of brain aneurysm. CT scanning provides more detailed information about brain tissue and brain structures than standard X-rays. Fortunately, her CT scan report came back “normal” or negative.
It was once believed that tension-type headaches were due to muscle tension. It is now recognized that although there are often tender trigger points in the neck and suboccipital area, there is no higher incidence of muscle spasm when compared with other headache types. A growing group of researchers believe that chronic tension-like headaches may represent part of a headache continuum. These patients often begin with migraine attacks that gradually transform into more frequent, less severe, tension-type headaches like Kate’s headaches. Kate however, also had her more severe migraine with aura as well about twice a month.
Kate’s treatment for chronic headaches
Once believed to be purely vascular, migraine headaches are believed to be neurogenic (caused by nervous system). Furthermore, in women, there is also a hormonal relationship. So to treat Kate’s headache continuum of tension to classic migraine, I utilized a spectrum of therapies. Firstly, she received chiropractic adjustments/ manipulation to her neck and spine along with soft tissue work (myofascial release, pressure point and various relaxation procedures) and exercises to continue at home. Secondly, recommendations were made on diet and nutrition that triggered her headaches. Other possible triggers for her headaches such as sleeping issues and environmental pollutants were also eliminated. Thirdly, I did several homeopathic consultations with Kate and prescribed a number of homeopathic medicines. Kate was against drugs when possible. Similarly, Kate knew about the rebound headaches that can occur if you take aspirin for longer than 3 days.
Kate responded well to her chiropractic treatment for chronic headaches plan of 1-2 times a week for 3 months. Kate’s headaches decreased in frequency and intensity gradually. Finally, she was able to do the necessary chores and social activities again without going home to bed after work.
Meiri Chiropractic serving North Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach offers chiropractic treatment for chronic headaches. Your chiropractor will examine, diagnose and determine your best course of chiropractic treatment for chronic headaches . Call us in North Palm Beach at 561-253-8984 to schedule an appointment at our chiropractic clinic and start getting the relief you need.
11985 U.S. Highway 1, Ste. 102
North Palm Beach, FL 33408