Chronic headaches lower the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. If you suffer from frequent or severe headaches, every day means either pushing through the pain or wondering when the agony will return. The past two decades have upended much of the conventional wisdom surrounding headache disorders and — happily for sufferers — opened the way to new avenues of treatment.
Decades ago, a headache doctor could pigeonhole headaches into tidy categories:
Tension headaches feel like an iron band tightening around your head. Tension-type headaches are often caused by emotional stress or depression.
Migraine headaches affect their sufferers with throbbing pain on one side of the head, often in tandem with nausea. The pain may reside around the temple, eye socket, or back of the head. Among adults, migraine specialist physicians note that women are more likely than men to suffer from this condition. These attacks can last for days.
Cervicogenic headaches cause consistent pain that radiates from the back of the head. These headaches usually occur on one side of the head and cause moderate to severe head pain. While the source of a cervicogenic headache always lies in the neck, sufferers may mistake their pain for a tension or migraine headache without a professional diagnosis.
Recent headache research has blurred these boundaries. As a tension headache’s intensity increases, the sensation resembles a migraine headache. When migraine headaches become frequent, your perception matches a tension headache. For a headache doctor, this seamless spectrum of symptoms is a fresh challenge in the quest for pain relief.
Other classifications, like cluster headaches and sinus headaches, are also used. Categorizing a headache often depends on reported headache symptoms from the patient. The National Headache Foundation identifies nearly thirty different types of headaches. Headaches that are a patient’s only problem are called primary headaches and are often difficult to pin to another cause.
Pharmaceuticals, both prescription and over-the-counter, remain an effective weapon in the war on headache pain.
Between the severe pain and misery of the headaches and pharmaceutical side effects from medication overuse, headaches can dominate your life. It is easy to see why so many sufferers seek drug-free paths to treat headaches.
Fortunately for these patients, a growing body of research shows that three non-pharmaceutical approaches may yield measurable improvements.
Acupuncture is a Chinese pain relief method dating back more than two millennia. The technique uses the strategic insertion of fine needles into a patient’s body to reduce or eliminate pain. The small diameter of the needles and the skill of our acupuncturists prevent any sensation of pain at the moment of insertion.
Long viewed with skepticism by much of the medical community, placebo-controlled trials won the practice widespread respect in the 21st century. Why the technique works is not fully understood, but professionals welcome the clinical results.
Acupuncture outcomes for migraine sufferers run the gamut from no noticeable effect to long-lasting freedom from pain. Numerous clinical studies of acupuncture treatment for migraine headaches have begun, but the results are still years away.
In the meantime, a growing number of physicians in the migraine specialist community recommend a course of six acupuncture sessions to give patients a chance to evaluate the technique.
When a headache doctor diagnoses a cervicogenic headache, physical therapy often becomes a cornerstone of the care plan to relieve headache symptoms. Our therapists begin by observing your posture and range of motion.
This evaluation leads to a tailored care plan. Your therapy may involve massage, muscular manipulation, or electrical stimulation. Patients are active participants in this process, and you may receive instructions for exercises to practice between therapy sessions.
A variety of causes can trigger headaches. If musculoskeletal issues lead to your headaches, chiropractic care may treat your pain’s cause, not merely relieve symptoms.
A Norwegian study published in 2017 recounted the results of spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) for cervicogenic headaches. Over the 17-month trial period, participants receiving SMT showed more reductions in headache frequency, intensity, and duration when compared to a placebo group.
A Danish study released in 2021 reported the results of SMT with schoolchildren. Over four months, children receiving twice-monthly SMT sessions reported a 20% reduction in headache frequency compared against the trial’s placebo group.
Headache doctors are looking forward to the findings of upcoming trials to refine the role of chiropractic care in pain treatment.
At Bayside Physical Therapy, Chiropractic & Acupuncture, PLLC, headache treatment is a vital part of our multidisciplinary pain relief mission. Our staff includes licensed chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy professionals. Serving the greater Queens area, we accept all auto insurance, workers’ compensation, Medicare, and most major medical plans. If you suffer from frequent headaches, we invite you to schedule an appointment with us.