Wellness Committee: Common Collegiate Headaches
Author: Dr. Mary Nochimson
In this blog, I plan to talk about common headaches and holistic modalities and at-home treatments that may help.
1. Tension headaches feel like a band-like pressure surrounding the crown of the head. These headaches are usually caused by anxiety AKA tension. These headaches typically originate in the muscles of the head and neck. How to treat?
Chiropractic is a great option. In chiropractic, there is a headache known as a “cervicogenic headache”, which is a headache that is derived from misaligned spinal joints, also known as a subluxation. Subluxations not only put pressure on spinal nerves providing information and nutrition to the organs and structures of the head and neck, but it also causes muscle spasm. When these muscles spasm, over time, start pulling on the surrounding skin and fascia creating a trigger point leading to head pain. By adjusting the joint, it helps these muscles relax and that positively affects the surrounding fascia.
In addition to Chiropractic, a massage therapist can also work wonders. Make sure to find a therapist who specializes in trigger point massage. Craniosacral is a gentle hands-on technique that uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of the fluids in and around the brain and spinal cord. This not only helps address the physical portion of relieving tension in the central nervous system, but also helps address the emotional component of your headache. The fourth really awesome modality is acupuncture. There are specific sets of points that help decrease headaches and pain, and I will share a few of them with you.
– Warm bath with eucalyptus and lavender oils. These two essential oils help with anxiety and promote relaxation.
– With a massage tool or with your pointer or thumb, stimulate the following areas for 1 minute.
Yin Tang is an extra point found in between the eyebrows above the nasal bones. I have found this point to be effective for headaches and anxiety.
Large Intestine 4 is a miracle point for headaches, neck and jaw pain. When you stimulate a point that is not local to the area of pain, this is known as a distal point and they can be very very effective. Important: if you are pregnant, do not stimulate this point as it stimulates uterine contraction.
Kidney 1 is the ultimate point for pain. It stimulates the body to make endorphins, which helps increase pain tolerance. When I was taught this point at the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, the professor told a story of a woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and screamed in unbearable pain every night. After stimulating this point, the pain was relieved and the woman was able to sleep soundly through the night. I have used this point for patients who experienced headaches and other pains that have not improved using other medical and alternative medicine modalities
2. Migraine headaches are typically throbbing in nature and present on one side of the head behind the temple or the eye. This headache may sometimes be accompanied by photophobia, sensitivity to light, or nausea, or vomiting. These type of headaches usually triggered by smells, food or environmental.
Ways to prevent this type of headache is keeping a log, or a diary. Write down all the foods you eat and monitor your symptoms. When you start to feel a headache coming on, notice if there are any smells in the air such as perfumes. This is the best way to get a handle on your migraine headache.
Treatments include NAET®, which stands for Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique. This is a holistic modality which helps your body decrease the load of insensitivities you are exposed to on a daily basis. If you have many insensitivities that you are exposed to on a daily basis, this is going to lead to widespread inflammation throughout your body and central nervous system making your body susceptible to these headaches. If we can desensitize your body to these allergens, this will decrease inflammation in your body, making your body more functional. By exposing your body to the allergen transdermally through contact with a glass vial and stimulating specific acupuncture points along the spine and on the wrists, hands, ankle and feet, this modality helps your body respond better to the allergen. I know… UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING!
Migraines are vascular and these vessels feeding the brain from the heart travel through the fascia, muscles and joints of the cervical spine. Depending on severity, Craniosacral is a great treatment. Releasing the cranial bones will allow for vessels traveling through the tunnels (formed by the cranial bones) and through the intracranial membranes (which separate the brain and cerebellar parts) to travel more freely without interference. A Craniosacral therapist will also release the cranial base through which blood supply and nerve supply enter and exit the skull.
A massage therapist skilled in neck work may also help. In my experience, a spasm in the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM), may mimic a migraine headache. If you squeeze this muscle, you may find that it may produce pain behind the eye or around the ear on the same side.
- Still point inducer
- Stay away from strong smelling deodorant/ perfume.
- Stimulate the acupuncture points mentioned above.
3. Headaches can also be caused by
- Lack of sleep
- Make sure you are getting 8 hours of sleep and try sipping a cup of chamomile tea. Avoid drinking beverages loaded with caffeine and smoke cigarettes as they are both “stimulants”.
- An incorrect eyeglass prescription
- Make sure that you visit your eye doctor once a year to avoid wearing prescription lenses that are not right for you
- Staring at a computer for extended periods of time.
- Try to take frequent breaks from not just your computer, but your phone as well; and dim the room to reduce glare and reflections, which causes eye strain, which can lead to headaches.
- Try exercising, meditation and yoga. Find time for self care with chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture. Try diffusing lavender oil as it stimulates the relaxation effect
- Loud noise exposure
- If you are sensitive to sounds, this will definitely be a potential cause for a headache. Try ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones when you know you are going to a place where there will might be noises.
- Tight headwear.
- All women love their hair extensions, headbands, barrettes and scrunchies!!! As unnoticeable as they are on your head, they may be causing some restrictions in the cranial bones and tensions in the intracranial membranes. One of the symptoms of these “makin’ me pretty” accessories is headaches. So, don’t be shy! When you get that chance, let your hair down!
Dr. Mary’s important Pearl of Health & Wisdom: This is very important. Two major questions the medical doctor asks, and questions you can ask yourself, when you have a headache are
1. Is this the worst headache you ever had?
2. Have you had this headache before?
If you answered “yes” to question 1 and “no” to question 2, then the medical doctor, physician’s assistant or the nurse will probably refer you to the hospital to rule out life-threatening diseases such as a possible aneurysm or tumor. If all tests come out negative, then to have the headache symptoms co-managed by a neurologist and chiropractor may help you recover from the headache and also help you manage the symptoms when flair ups occur.