NO… You do not have to take Advil, Tylenol, Excedrin, Aleve or whatever your over the counter drug of choice is to manage your headaches. Yes, that is the easy way to go about it (FOR NOW) but it won’t be as easy in the near future when your body is FOREVER damaged due to taking these drugs for an extended period of time. I can’t tell you how many people I see everyday who suffer from consistent, weekly headaches and are content with these being a normal part of their life. If you’re getting headaches more than 2-3 times per month then it’s important that you know your body is ringing the alarm in the form of headaches to let you know something is wrong.
I had a patient roughly a year ago who states he would take multiple Advil tablets daily to manage his headaches. I jokingly asked if he thought his body was deficient in Advil which caused headaches. He laughed it off and answered no but the point was made. I proceeded to inform him that although he was taking Advil like it was a daily vitamin, it couldn’t have been working due to the sheer volume of tablets he was taking. Just like nearly everyone who takes over the counter daily headache medication, his response is “That’s what I’ve always done.” The fact of the matter is that usually it’s the only thing that people know. Not because they are uneducated, but on the contrary, because that’s what they were taught. This is the majority of what people are prescribed by their medical doctor, what they get bombarded with on TV ads, or the instructions given to them by their family or friends. No shame, because that was information I was given as well.
My goal today is to let you know that headaches are not normal, and don’t have to be a part of everyday life. That the majority of headaches people suffer from can be helped and managed. But you must be proactive in order for you to decrease the frequency of or even get rid of them. The type of headache you have is important because there are a number of things that can be going wrong that are causing your headache. This is a subject for a different article that is located here. (Link to other blog…I don’t have this one)
As for today’s information, we will discuss solely how to get rid of the most common types of headaches with a few stretches and/or products that you will have to order that will be better for your body than destroying your liver with too much over the counter medications.
Most people suffer from headaches that occur from being tense. Tension is brought on by many different things but tight, pulling muscles and stress is what nearly everyone says is the cause of their headaches. In a lot of cases these people are correct but the way they go about fixing it is wrong. Below I will share a few simple things you can do to help decrease your headaches.
Tip #1. This first nugget is something you can do at home. Roll up a bath towel half way. Place an ice pack in a t- shirt and lay it over it with the towel under your neck face up for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you can dim the lights it would help even better. This will help the tension that’s built up in the neck to calm down while cooling the irritated muscles. I know most people don’t like ice packs but ice really works to decrease pain and irritation in this case. You can choose to remove the ice but continue to relax with the rolled up towel under your neck. This is also when you can pull out some moist heat and place it under your upper back/shoulder/trap region on both sides for another 10-15 minutes. In my experience, one of the best tools to use is a neck wedge.
A neck wedge and a gel neck pillow can also be be very helpful. These are inexpensive tools recommended in our office to help create a positive curve in the neck. Click here for a video on how they are used. Hopefully this works for you but if not on to the next option.
I tell people on a daily basis to try their best not to look down at phones, tablets, and laptops. I will continue to push people to do so because it’s amazing how much time the average person spends looking down at their phones (Look it up if you want). But everyone cannot not look down all day. Some occupations force the neck to be flexed down for prolonged periods of time and there’s nothing the person can do about it (eg. barbers, hair stylist, laboratory workers, surgical staff, etc). To these people, bad posture is a way of making a living. The way to fix this is to try and balance out the amount of daily bad curve by doing the work on your neck to create a better curve on a daily basis with the information above.
Tip #2. Once you understand how bad posture affects your negatively spine to create headaches, a good thing to check out is how your spine is positioned. Is it in a bad alignment creating bad pressure to nerves and causing muscle tension. If it is, how can a medication fix your alignment, it can’t. This is when you use treatment such as chiropractic to help realign your structure to release the tension in the muscle.
To help you visualise what I’m telling you, imagine you have a bow and arrow. The bow represents your neck curve and the string represents the muscle. At rest the bow has a natural curve away from your body and the string is taut but relaxed helping the bow to curve. Now Imagine straightening the bow out and the amount of tension you put in the string when doing so. Bad posture creates a term called “military neck” where the normal curve in the neck is lost and becomes straight like a soldier at attention. The straightness of the neck is the tension that creates pressure causing headaches. You still think Aleve will help you get the curve back in your neck to release the tension out of the muscle?
How do you find out your neck and head alignment? Go to your local chiropractor. There is a lot of evidence that chiropractic adjustments can help relieve headaches. In order to get rid of headaches for good, you have to get your body to stop causing problems. Chiropractic care is one of the best ways to do this. By realigning the bones in your spine, your nerves can begin to function the way they are meant to. Your muscles also begin to adjust to the proper alignment in your neck, reducing the tension you feel that causes so many headaches. Even migraine sufferers find that chiropractic care reduces the number of headache days they experience, in some cases stopping them altogether.