There is relief for headaches

There is relief for headaches

About 90 percent of all headaches are the result of cervical tension.

About 90 percent of all headaches are the result of cervical tension.

by Dr. Bill Gallagher — 

If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. The National Headache Foundation (NHF) estimates that more than 45 million Americans have chronic, recurring headaches. The good news is that you may not need to suffer — if you understand how they are caused and how to correct the causes.

The NHF lists 32 types of headaches with a variety of origins including sinuses, allergies, depression, tumors and, most commonly, stress. In rare cases, surgical intervention may be necessary not only to stop the pain but also to save a life. Fortunately, for most, relief can be had much more easily.

About 90 percent of all headaches are the result of cervical tension. While it is true that relief can be had from relaxation or massaging the muscles of the neck, the underlying cause too often is overlooked. Subluxations, misaligned vertibrae that cause nerve interference, cause the messages between the brain to the muscles to be less than 100 percent effective. As a result, layer after layer of muscles tighten to balance out the problem, until you have a stiffened neck and, of course, the headaches.

Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can offer relief, but be aware that, like most medications, they do not come without risks. We spend more than $4 billion each year on these medications, although they can cause stomach, liver and kidney problems and are responsible for 30,000 deaths a year in this country.

Read the labels. Tylenol, which is not anti-inflammatory, can cause liver damage. The label advises not to use the product with alcohol or if you already have any liver damage. Combined with alcohol, it has led to the need for liver transplants. Motrin’s label advises not to use it if you are allergic to aspirin because cross reactions can occur.

Fortunately, you don’t have to put yourself and your health at risk to get rid of a headache. Chiropractors and their patients have known for 100 years that adjustments can help. By correcting the subluxations, chiropractic adjustments can get to the root cause. This is true with cervical tension headaches as well as with those dreaded migraines.

If the cause of your headache is emotional or chemical, you can do things to better handle stress and change your diet to eliminate some of the culprits. But if the problem is structural — and most are at least in part structural — then it’s time to consider chiropractic treatment.


Dr. Bill Gallagher, a chiropractic physician in Scottsdale, Ariz., practices Directional Non-Force Technique and is listed in the Guide to America’s Top Chiropractors. 480-513-3909 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 23, Number 1, February/March 2005.

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