NJ Migraines and Headaches Info

Fibromyalgia: The Top 10 Most Common Signs

Fibromyalgia (FM) causes widespread pain to an estimated 5.8 million Americans. FM is considered a “musculoskeletal disorder” even though many of the symptoms include other systems, especially the gastrointestinal system, as conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) often co-exist. It is thought that FM is a disorder that amplifies the manner in which the brain processes pain, making the body’s pain receptors hypersensitive. For example, FM can result in a 3/10 pain level (normally tolerated) being amplified to 7 or 8/10, enough to interfere with daily activities. FM often follows some type of severe physical or mental trauma, such as a car accident, surgery, or a significant psychological stress. The widespread pain results in fatigue, sleep deprivation, depression, and more. The following are ten of the most common symptoms associated with FM:

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Headaches: How Does Chiropractic Help?

HeadacheManHeadaches (HA) can be tremendously disabling, forcing sufferers away from work or play into a dark, quiet room to minimize any noise and light that intensifies the pain. According to the National Headache Foundation, there are over 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic, re-occurring headaches, of which 28 million are of the migraine variety. Also, approximately 20% of children and adolescents deal with headaches that can interfere significantly with their daily routines. There are many different types of headaches and many sub-types within the main categories. Here are a few: Tension HA (also, called cervicogenic HA), migraine, mixed headache syndrome (a mixture of migraine and tension HAs), cluster (less common but the most severe), sinus headaches, acute headaches, hormone headaches, chronic progressive headaches (traction or inflammatory HAs), and MANY more! Just “GOOGLE” “headache classification” for the daunting list! Let’s take a look at how chiropractic manages these headaches!

According to a study completed in 2005, a review of the published literature revealed good evidence that intensity and frequency of HAs are indeed helped by chiropractic intervention. They limited their review to cervicogenic headaches and spinal manipulation and noted the need for larger scale studies. The well-respected Cochrane database reported spinal manipulation (SM) as an effective treatment option with short-term benefits similar to amitriptyline, a commonly prescribed medication for migraine HA patients.

For cervicogenic HA, the combination of neck exercises and SM was found to be effective in both the short- and long-term, and SM was superior to massage or placebo (sham or “fake” manipulation). Regarding the question of treatment frequency of SM plus up to two modalities (heat and soft tissue therapy), a preliminary study found that when comparing patients receiving one, three, or four visits per week for three weeks, those receiving 9-12 treatments during the three weeks had the most benefit. Regarding the questions, “what is affected by SM” and, “why does SM work” for cervicogenic HA patients, a study describes the intimate relationship between the upper cervical nerve roots (C1-3), the trigeminal (cranial nerve V), the spinal accessory (cranial nerve XI), and the vascular system. Inflammation within these structures and their relationship with the trapezius and SCM muscles help us understand the “why” and “how” of SM and referred pain pattern to the face and head in those with cervicogenic HAs. Realizing this is a bit “technical”, feel free to GOOGLE these structures and you’ll appreciate the close proximity they have to each other and how adjustments, or SM, applied to the upper cervical spine can affect this region. It has also been reported that SM and strengthening of the deep neck flexor muscles benefits the cervicogenic HA patient. Many HA sufferers have combinations of symptoms including dizziness, neck pain, concentration “fog”, fatigue, and others, which were found to also respond to SM applied to the upper cervical spine. One study reported a 36% reduction in pain killer medication use in a group of cervicogenic headache patients receiving SM but no reduction in the patient group receiving soft-tissue therapy. The list of research studies goes on and on! So WHAT are you waiting for? TRY CHIROPRACTIC for your headache management!!!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for headaches, we would be honored to render our services.

Whiplash Recovery

whiplash1Exercise is an important part of whiplash treatment and is often overlooked by both patients and doctors. We will focus on several practical and effective exercises over the next several Health Updates. The first of this series can be called “brain exercises.”

This link offers you a 37 page PDF of a booklet that contains GREAT information and includes the exercises reviewed below:

Brain Exercise #1: Eyes Still, Move Head. Hold a pen a comfortable distance in front of your eyes and keep looking at it as you rotate your head from side to side ten times. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying after resting. Repeat three times a day.

Brain Exercise #2: Head Still, Move Eyes. Keep your head still (move only your eyes) while you move the pen left to right as far as you can ten times without losing sight of the pen. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying later in the day. Repeat three times a day.

Brain Exercise #3: Standing Balance Test. Stand with your feet close together (or, feet shoulder width apart if you feel unsteady). You should feel steady for 30 seconds with your eyes open AND closed. Try it (count to 30)! If you feel unsteady, this exercise should be repeated often until you feel improvement with the eyes closed! A variation is to place one foot in front of the other, switching feet after each test. Notice this one is more difficult. A third position is standing on ONE foot (switch sides after each test) with the eyes open AND again closed. This one is REALLY hard! Stand near a counter or corner of a room to “catch” yourself – don’t fall.

Notice that these exercises are NOT neck specific; there are others exercises for that. Rather, these incorporate eye/head movements, coordination/balance challenges and address symptoms such as dizziness, headache, post-concussion symptoms (memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc.), and others. These exercises can be very helpful as they “exercise” our neuropathways, or the “wiring” within our nervous system so that information flows freely to and from our brain, spinal cord, and our various body parts. These help us function safer and better in ALL of our desired daily activities! We can train you in these exercises if you feel uncomfortable doing these on your own.

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for Whiplash, we would be honored to render our services.

What Kind of Headache Do I Have? (Part 2)

headacheLast month, we discussed three types of headaches: Tension Headache (the most common), Cluster Headaches (a vascular headache – less common, short duration but REALLY painful), and Sinus Headaches. Migraine headaches were discussed the month before last. In keeping with the theme, ONE more headache type will be discussed: Rebound Headaches, followed by anti-inflammatory herbal remedies, and finally, “Headache Triggers.”

Rebound headaches are the result of pain killer overuse. Of course, one would think of pain killers like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.) as well as many prescription drugs as being “friendly” and commonly reached for when a headache or any other ache or pain occurs. But, as the old saying goes, "…too much of a good thing can be bad!" These culprits, instead of helping, can actually hurt you! One theory for the cause of rebound headaches is that too much of these meds can cause the brain to shift into an excited state that triggers the headache. Another theory is that these headaches result from too sudden of a drop of the medicine in the bloodstream, which would only occur if the medication was being taken at a high dose for a relatively long period of time. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, EVERY 10 SECONDS, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a migraine or headache due to the intense pain, severe nausea or dehydration, drug interactions, or side effects from headache medications! DON’T BE ONE OF THEM!!!

As mentioned last month, PLEASE FIRST try an anti-inflammatory herb like ginger (Zingiber officinale), turmeric (Curcuma longa), Feverfew, passionflower (Passiflora alata), Peppermint (menthe piperita), ginko (ginko biloba), caffeine (Coffea Arabica), black or green tea, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Coriander Seed (Coriandrum sativum), Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis), Lavender Oil (Lavandula angustifolia), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Lime or Linden (Tilia spp.), horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), and more!

So what triggers headaches? Here are a few of the more commonly researched triggers: weight [in females, a BMI of 30 (mild obesity) = 35% greater risk, and BMI of 40 (“severe obesity”) = 80%]; personality (traits such as rigidity, reserve, and obsessivity); “let-down” or weekend headaches (breaking your routine, like staying in bed until noon); odors and fumes (e.g., fresh paint); dehydration (drink water AND eat fruits/veggies to get more water); skipping meals (hunger is a common trigger); physical exertion (certain sports like running, weight lifting); too much caffeine (small amounts help, but too much can trigger headaches); inactivity (sedentary lifestyles trigger – 30 min./day cardio, 5x/week is ideal); sleep deprivation (those averaging six hours have more frequent & severe headaches); and certain foods like red wine, beer, MSG, chocolate, aged cheese, sauerkraut, and processed meats like pepperoni, ham, and salami. Foods that can reduce headaches include those high in magnesium: spinach, tofu, oat bran, barely, fish oil, olive oil, white beans, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. In addition to GOOD CHIROPRACTIC CARE, headache management requires a multidimensional approach for best results!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for headaches, we would be honored to render our services.

Is it a Migraine?

HeadacheManThere are MANY different types of headaches, of which migraines are a common type. This discussion will concentrate on some unique characteristics that are associated with migraine headaches. This information may help you understand what type of headache you’re having. A unique feature of migraine headaches is that prior to the start of the headache, there is often a pre-headache “warning” that the migraine is about to commence. This is often referred to as an “aura,” and it can vary from a few minutes to a few hours, or in some cases, two days prior to the start of the migraine. Here are some of the more common “warning signs” that you are having, or are about to have, a migraine:

  • Neck pain. In an online survey, the National Headache Foundation found that 38% of migraine patients “always,” and 31% “frequently” had neck pain accompany their migraine headache.
  • Frequent urination. This can precede the migraine by an hour or as much as two days.
  • Yawning. A 2006 article in the journal Cephalgia reported that about 36% of migraine sufferers describe yawning as a common pre-migraine warning. This can occur quite frequently, such as every few minutes.
  • A “sensory aura” may occur on half of the body, moving from the finger tips through the arm, across the face, or elsewhere and usually includes a temporary lack of feeling as if the body region is “half asleep.”
  • Nausea and vomiting. This is a common aura. According to the American Migraine Study II (a mail survey of more than 3,700 migraine patients) 73% reported nausea and 29% vomiting. Another study reported that migraine sufferers who have nausea/vomiting usually have more severe migraine headaches and get less relief from migraine medications compared to those who do not get nausea or vomiting.
  • Other common auras or “sensitivities” during the migraine include bright light, noise, and/or smells (like perfumes), and many migraine sufferers seek refuge in a dark, quiet room and try to sleep.
  • Physical activity. Routine activities such as walking, climbing steps, running, weight lifting, or sexual activity can trigger a migraine and/or increase the intensity of an existing migraine headache.
  • Trouble speaking. Difficulty “getting the words out” or formulating thought (staying on task) can be another warning sign of an impending migraine. Obviously, if this is the first time this symptom has occurred and it’s “…out of the ordinary,” we’ll have to make sure it’s not something more serious (…like a stroke)!
  • Weakness. This may occur in an arm or leg or entire half of the body (left or right side) and also could be a more serious sign of a stroke, but it is also a fairly common pre-migraine aura.
  • Visual aura. This can include double vision and/or vertigo (balance loss with a spinning feeling). This often occurs in a special type of migraine called a “basilar-type migraine” and symptoms can include dizziness, double vision or loss of vision. The balance loss is often associated with a “bad migraine” and occurs when the migraine is stronger or more intense than usual.
  • Headache hangover.” This usually occurs after the migraine has passed and people describe a feeling of being “wiped out.” Symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and extreme energy loss.

In many cases, adjustments applied to the neck and upper back, especially when delivered BEFORE the migraine, can reduce the intensity and in some cases STOP the migraine from even starting!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for headaches, we would be honored to render our services.