Cluster Headaches And Chiropractic
Nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches, so if you have headaches, you’re not alone. Some get occasional headaches, some frequent, dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. Unfortunately, cluster headaches are more debilitating than most headache types.
Cluster headaches involve intense and relentless pain in or around one eye on one side of the head. The symptoms can sometimes be confused with a migraine, however, there is one major difference.
This type of headache occurs in patterns, and it arises in outbursts or “clusters” of frequent attacks. Someone with cluster headaches will experience horrible pain, a brief intermission and then the return of pain.
These bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, may last from weeks to months, usually followed by long periods of relief (remission). During remission, attacks may stop for months or years.
Common Symptoms Of Cluster Headaches
- Intense, sharp pain behind one eye, often described as an ice pick in your eye.
- Pain at the base of the skull, towards one side.
- Pain behind the ear.
- One-sided pain down the neck and into the upper back.
- Medication does not usually treat successfully.
- Multiple headaches occur with a brief intermission
- Eye tearing, nasal congestion, eyelid drooping, constriction of the pupil, and lid swelling of the affected side.
How Chiropractic Helps Cluster Headaches
Your body has an amazing way of clearly telling you in some way that your body isn’t functioning optimally. Spinal misalignment can negatively affect the brainstem and can cause it to send improper signals to the brain.
When this happens chiropractic can facilitate optimal functioning of the entire body by improving brain-body communication. Chiropractic adjustments work to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system. The nervous system can relax and function with greater ease; the cervical spine muscles can decrease in tightness and rigidity that’s often experienced with these headaches.
- Alcohol. Alcohol can trigger cluster headaches in some people. If you drink alcohol, consider avoiding it during a cluster period.
- Triggers. Smoke, bright lights, overheating (hot weather, saunas, strenuous activity, hot baths, and showers), foods and altitude can all be triggers. Become aware of these triggers and avoid them.
- Quit Smoking. A significantly higher percentage of people that suffer from cluster headaches are smokers, compared with the rest of the population.
- Keep a regular sleep routine. Cluster headaches have been associated with changes in the sleep routine.
- Daily exercise. Having a consistent workout routine to your schedule might reduce your risk for recurrent cluster headaches.
- Deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises can be performed at home when you have a cluster headache as getting extra oxygen into your bloodstream can calm your body and help you manage pain.
While no headache is pleasant, cluster headaches can be particularly uncomfortable. Sufferers might find help from an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic manipulation of the cervical and thoracic spinal areas has been shown to relieve signs and symptoms of cluster headaches. You chiropractor may also prescribe exercises, provide nutritional advise or make suggestions to avoid possible triggers for cluster headaches.