Most of us experience the occasional headache. Whether it’s throbbing, aching, pounding or stabbing, a head-ache can make our lives miserable. It also affects our ability to focus and may increase our sensitivity to external stimuli.
There are several types of headaches, and each one has a different cause. The most common headaches are tension, migraine, cervicogenic and cluster. Migraines are often considered to exist in a category of their own. (We’ll discuss migraines in the next issue of Topic of the Week.)
The tension headache is the most frequent type of headache in the general population.1 It usually occurs most frequently in people susceptible to the effects of stress. This headache usually starts with tightness in the neck and shoulders, then progresses to pain at the base of the skull. The forehead and temples may also ache.
A cervicogenic headache originates from disorders of the neck. This type of headache is often preceded by awkward neck movement or position-ing (such as painting a ceiling, or washing a floor). It’s usually accom-panied by restricted range of motion in the neck and pain in the shoulder, neck or arm.
Treatment for Tension and Cervicogenic Headaches
A frequent cause of both tension and cervicogenic headaches is irrita-tion of the nerves leading to the scalp. These nerves exit the spine close to the base of the skull and pass around or directly through several layers of muscle tissue. If this area of the spine is restricted or the muscles in this location are extra tight, the nerves in the scalp can get irritated. When related with neck pain and stiffness, these headaches can generally be effectively treated with chiropractic.2- 5 Sometimes the relief from chronic headaches can be immediate and dramatic.6
Massage and trigger point therapy applied to the tight muscles may also reduce the symptoms associated with this type of headache.
Cluster headaches are relatively rare, affecting only 0.1% of the population. About 85% of cluster headache sufferers are male.7This headache is distinct from migraine and tension headaches. It typically features intense bouts of stabbing pain felt in very specific focal areas of the skull. The pain usually occurs in clusters, and it can last from minutes to hours. The discomfort typically centers around one eye, and this eye may be inflamed and watery. Nasal congestion sometimes occurs on the affected side of the face. It’s suspected that cluster headaches are related to the sinuses. This type of headache is not usually as responsive to chiropractic treatments as other headaches. But it’s a good idea to have your chiropractor check your neck to rule out any involvement of this area.
What Can I Do to Prevent Headaches?
Follow these simple tips: Manage your stress – try meditation, relaxation exercises and taking regular breaks from your schedule. Exercise regularly – cardiovascular exercise helps your muscles, circulatory system and sense of well being.Watch your posture – the muscles that hold your head upright are the same as those that contribute to headaches. Practice good posture to reduce stress on these muscles. Drink plenty of fresh water, dehydration is a common cause of headaches, muscle tightness and fatigue. Drink a minimum of eight cups per day.Have your spine checked regularly for misalignment/subluxations by your South Elgin chiropractor, DR Tim Schening – correcting misalignment before symptoms appear can save you a lot of grief.
References and Sources:
1. Loder E & Rizzoli P. Clinical Review:Tension-type headache. BMJ 2008; 336: 88-92.2. McCrory DC, Penzien DB,HasselbladV & Gray RN. Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache.Duke University Evidence-basedPractice Center, Center for ClinicalHealth Policy Research. Durham NC.3. Bronfort G, Assendelft WJ, Evans R, Haas M & Bouter L. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001; 24(7): 457-466.4. Haas M, Groupp E, Aickin M, Fairweather A, Ganger B, Attwood M, Cummins C & Baffes L. Dose response for chiropractic care of chronic cervicogenic headache and associated neck pain: a randomized pilot study. J Manip Physiol Ther. 2004; 27(9): 547-553.5. Nilsson N, Christensen HW & Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. J Manip Physiol Ther. 1997; 20(5): 326-330.6. Lisi AJ & Dabrowski Y. ChiropracticSpinal Manipulation for CervicogenicHeadache in an 8-Year-Old.J Neuro – musculoskeletal System 2002; 10(3): 98–103.7. Fischera M, Marziniak M, Gralow I & Evers S. The incidence and prevalence of cluster headache: a meta-analysis of population-based studies.Cephalgia. 2008; 28(6): 614 – 618.
Here is a simple exercise that you can do at home with no exercise equipment.
It works the longus capitis, longus colli, SCM (sternocleidomastoid) muscles.
The purpose of this exercise is to increase neck strength and muscular endurance.
The benefits are improved stability, functional strength and injury prevention.
Begin by lying on the back with the head extended off the table, maintaining a chin tuck position.
Slowly extend the head back towards the floor and then raise the head, returning to the initial neutral starting position and repeat as instructed.
Move slowly through the range of motion.
Slowly return to start position.
Repeat for prescribed repetitions and sets.
© 2005-2010 WebExercises, Inc., Patent Pending, All Rights Reserved.
If they weren’t a necessary component
of a popular sport, the movements
involved with a golf swing would be
banned by most chiropractors. The
repetitive, one-sided nature of the golf
swing makes it a common cause for
back injuries. They’re several reasons
why the golf swing is so problematic
for the body. First, it requires great
flexibility, which most people lack.
Second, it requires good posture, which
is also uncommon. Third, the power
move in golf is always one-sided,
leading to muscle and joint imbalances.
Flexibility for Power
According to Butch Harmon, one of
the foremost authorities on the golf
swing, in order for golfers to generate
more power and more distance, they
are coached to “feel their arms staying
in front of the body as they turn back.”1
Todd Anderson, a Golf Digest teaching
professional, goes into more detail by
suggesting that a proper backswing
should see “the shoulders starting
parallel to the target line and turning 90
degrees, the hips turning to 45 degrees,
and the knees turning to 22 degrees.” 2
This means the backswing will generate
a lot of spinal twist and loading.
Compounding this amount of torque
with near-maximum acceleration in the
downswing is a recipe for disaster.
Repeating this move 50-70 times per
round makes it difficult to stay injury
free over the course of your golfing
This kind of movement requires
flexibility not only in the spine, but also
in the shoulders and hips. To ensure
that you have the kind of flexibility that
allows you to take a proper golf swing,
have your chiropractor check the range
of motion of these joints. If you have
any tightness in these areas, your
chiropractor can perform specific
adjustments to help these joints move
better and may suggest stretches to help
keep them moving properly.
Good Posture for the
When a golf pro is asked to create a
good, repeatable golf swing, one of his
first tasks is to establish a proper set up.
This is the golfer’s starting position
when addressing the ball. Posture is of
utmost importance here. Maintaining
natural curves throughout the spine
with good posture ensures that maximum
rotation will be achievable in both
the backswing and the follow through.
To illustrate this point, sit on a bench
and allow your body to slouch. Cross
your arms, placing your hands on
opposite shoulders. Then, try to rotate
fully to one side, then the other. Ask
someone to observe how far you can
go. Try again, but this time start by
sitting upright first. Notice how much
further your spine can rotate when you
start with good spinal posture.3
Ask your South Elgin chiropractor Dr Schening, if your lower
back has the proper spinal curve when
standing normally and when demonstrating
a set-up position for the golf
swing. If you suffer from restrictions
and displacements in your body, these
could be preventing you from achieving
normal postural positions. And it
could be taking 10, 20 or 30 yards off
your best drives! See how much easier
it is to swing the golf club after your
chiropractor corrects this problem.
The amount of effort exerted by most
amateur golfers when driving a golf
ball has been estimated at 90 percent of
their peak muscular activity. This level
of exertion has been compared to those
used in sports like football, hockey and
martial arts.3 This amount of physical
effort, combined with the one-sided
nature of the swing, requires a lot of
special attention. If a person is not
careful, over-exertion can easily lead to
stress and strain.
Chiropractic treatments by Dr Schening are very
effective at re-establishing proper
biomechanics in and around every joint
of the body. However, maintaining
proper function remains the patient’s
responsibility. Preparation for golf
should include an adequate warm-up,
proper stretching, and a lot of core
stabilization training. It’s no wonder
that many of the PGA professionals
have trainers and chiropractors join
them when they go on tour. Make sure
to tell your South Elgin chiropractor that you are a
golfer so particular attention will be
given to the areas of the body to
maximize your golf swing.
References and Sources:
1. Anderson T. Power – Load it
and let it go.
Golf Digest 2010; 61(1): 68-71.
2. Harmon B. Nick Watney’s power
pointers: How he became a great
driver – you can, too.
Golf Digest 2010; 61(2): 68-71.
3. Blanchard J. & Finkel L.
Chiropractic and Golf: A therapeutic
treatment and prevention
If you want to build any structure, a strong foundation is one of the key components. The human body is no different. Alignment of the bones in the feet can influence the functional stability of the rest of the body! Each foot contains 26 bones. It takes 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and numerous tendons to hold the bones in place and to allow for proper movement. As a musculoskeletal specialist, your South Elgin chiropractor Dr Tim Schening, is well-aware of the amount of brain-body coordination needed to keep these structures working properly.
Syndromes Related to Your Feet The following is a list of common conditions that are related to your feet, plus recommended solutions from your chiropractor.
Plantar Fasciitis – a painful conditioninvolving inflammation of the soft tissue in the arch of the foot. This condition is usually related to overuse or fallingarches.Icing and rest help to decrease pain, and muscle or joint manipulation can help restore proper function. Orthotic shoe inserts may also help provide structural support and reduce strain.1
Shin Pain – often caused by strain of the posterior and anterior tibialis muscles. These two muscles help give the arch of your foot mechanical support during walking or running. With increased stress due to repetitive use or falling arches, strain on the tendons of these muscles can cause the muscles to pull away from their bony attachments on the shin. This can cause periostitis, better known as shin splints. Improper footwear, combined with increased physical activity, is often the culprit. Rest, ice, muscle manipulation and orthotic inserts can help with this condition.2
Iliotibial Tract Syndrome (IT band syndrome) – pain located on the lateral side of the knee, thigh and hip, related to an inflammation of the tendon of the TFL muscle as it crosses the knee. This is one of the most common leg/hip syndromes found in runners, and it can be related to instability of the foot or pelvic misalignment. It is very often related to over-pronation of the foot, whereby the ankle joint turns inward – usually associated with falling arches. Chiropractic adjustments for the pelvis, foot and knee joints may help, as well as muscle manipulation, reduced exercise, and orthotic inserts to correct for the over-pronation.
Stress fractures – represent incomplete fractures (cracks) in any bone that is under an increased mechanical load. This condition is usually related to a structural imbalance, which creates an abnormal distribution of stress and strain. Rest is often the only treatment that helps mend this problem. Your chiropractor should also check the movement and alignmentof the feet and/or pelvis to help identify potential causes for the abnormal stress patterns.
Nerve Pain/Sciatica – radiating pain from nerve irritation/inflammation can be felt in the feet. Numbness, tingling, burning or aching pain can be a sign of lumbar nerve irritation. Disc herniation is a common cause of nerve root irritation. Chiropractic adjustments are often used to help balance the mechanical causes of disc herniations.
Pelvic Conditions – with respect to the kinetic chain, imbalances in foot bio-mechanics can lead to imbalances in pelvic mechanics. Restrictions or instability in the joints of the feet can lead to recurring symptoms in your pelvis and lower back.3 Common painful syndromes in the pelvis may include SI joint dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, and lumbar facet joint irritation. If your chiropractic adjustments are not holding as long as you’d like, you should have your chiropractor check your feet. Bouts of low back and pelvic pain that follow increased periods of walking, running or climbing may be pointing to the mechanical instability of your body’s foundation.
How to Take Care of Your Feet There are several things you can do to keep your feet healthy.Avoid activities that cause recurring pain in your feet, knees or hips.Wear appropriate, properly-fitting athletic shoes when you exercise. It is recommended you replace your athletic shoes at least once per year if you exercise at least once a week. Orthotic inserts, when required, can provide customized support for your feet in every shoe that you wear. Be sure to have Dr Schening check the mechanical movement patterns of your feet, knees and hips when walking or running. A routine gait analysis can pick up minor imbalances before they create major problems.Active lifestyles are also recommended to stay healthy. The best form of general exercise is walking. A gentle weight-bearing exercise like walking is known to help improve circulation, contribute to weight control and promote overall well being. Be sure to have your feet checked by chiropractor on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to take you where you want to go in a pain-free way.
References and Sources:1. Karl B. Landorf, Anne-Maree Keenan, and Robert D. Herbert Effectiveness of Different Types of Foot Orthoses for the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 2004 94: 542-549.2. Nawoczenski DA, Ludewig PM: Electromyographic effects of foot orthotics on selected lower extremity muscles during running. Arch Phys Med Rehab, 80:540-544, 1999.3. Dananberg HJ, Guiliano M: Chronic low-back pain and its response to custom-made foot orthoses.Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 1999; 89(3): 109-117.