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We wrote about how chiropractic care can help headaches last week, and we’re back again with more on the topic. Some 40% of the US population deals with episodic headaches annually. And get this – according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 29.5 million Americans have migraine headaches. So what distinguishes a migraine from a tension headache?

Migraines are often severe, even to the point of incapacitating, though not all migraines have head pain. Some manifest with visual issues or muscle weakness. People with migraines that result in head pain often note that they tend to feel them localized on one side of the head.

Migraines are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting. And, they often come with a warning about the misery ahead. It’s called an aura, and it can be visual floaters, bright flashing light, a ringing or other noise in the ears, or another kind of pre-headache forewarning. If you have migraines, chances are good that someone else in your family does too.

Migraines may be triggered by an array of things – everything from caffeine to citrus, cured meats to red wine. Some people suspect dehydration, fatigue, excessive exercise, certain food additives, menstruation, some medications, weather, television, stress and more.

Tension headaches are usually characterized by a steady ache and tightness in the neck, right at the base of the skull. This can irritate the upper cervical nerve roots, which leads to pain and/or numbness radiating into the head.

Triggers for tension headaches aren’t as numerous as those for migraines. They include anxiety, muscle strain, lack of sleep and stress.

Posture also plays a role in tension headaches and migraines. We’ve written before about forward head carriage and its role in neck and back pain. It’s also linked to headaches!

In our last post, we shared how chiropractic care has been shown as an effective treatment option for people with tension headaches. And good news – spinal manipulation, nutritional counseling and deep-tissue release techniques are also effective on migraines.

If you’re struggling with headaches and resorting to medications too much, we invite you to visit Dr. McSweeney to learn more about how she can help. In addition to treatment in her office, she can offer recommendations about self-management strategies to make you feel more prepared at home. These include icing, self-trigger point therapy, nutrition and exercise.

Learn more about your first chiropractor visit here, or schedule an appointment now.