What to do for headaches can be confusing. Should you take a medication? If you take a medication, which medication should you take? Should it be an over-the-counter medication? Should you go see a doctor and get a prescription medication? Do you need to use heat or ice? The questions can go on and on, but I think you get the picture. I want to share with you a checklist of things you can do for someone that is suffering from a headache. Remember, if you know what to do for someone else, you will also know how to help yourself.
1.) Determine what type of headache it is
Try to figure out what type of headache you are dealing with. In my previous blog we talked about the headache types according to a simplified classification. Is the headache a tension headache, a migraine headache, or a headache that is the result of a sickness or injury? This information will guide you as to steps you can take to obtain relief.
a. Migraines tend to be related to blood flow and blood chemistry. Light massage,
mild heat, and electrolytes to drink can be effective.
b. Tension headaches tend to be related to muscle tension in the back of the neck or
the temple area. Light massage and slow movement of the neck in all directions
may be beneficial here.
c. Sickness or accident headaches are the result of a cause that is usually pretty
obvious. Treating any sinus congestion, colds, and flu usually is most effective with
these types of headaches.
2.) Determine if "hands on" therapy can be used
Remember that all headaches have a muscular component. If the headache is not too severe, muscle relaxation technics by hand can be effective. Moderate pressure massage can increase blood flow to the muscles and induce relaxation. Passive ranges of motion (best when done with patient on their back) will cause natural pain-relieving chemicals to be released at the area of the joints in the spine. When you do passive ranges of motion for someone, you move the head for them. Turn gently to the right, left, chin toward chest, chin toward ceiling, and each ear toward each respective shoulder. Move the head only to the point of feeling resistance to your movement and move slowly. Repeat five times in each direction.
3.) Other helpful home technics
There are times when these technics can be used and times when they will aggravate an existing headache. These are things that can be tried and if tolerable can have an impact on a headache recovery time.
a. Hand traction: With the patient on their back, place your hands under the back of
the patient's skull. Your fingertips should just meet. Rest your thumbs along the
patient's lower jaw line. Gently tip the head back and gently pull the head away
from the shoulders without lifting the head from the bed. Hold for 15 seconds and
b. Soft and relaxing sounds (white noise) like a gentle rainstorm can be effective.
c. Resting in a dark room can be effective.
d. The "headache hand pinch" can be effective as well. Pinch with just enough
pressure to be uncomfortable but not hurt. Hold as long as can be tolerated
Headaches are absolutely miserable things. If you suffer from them or know someone who suffers from them, you understand what I mean. I hope these past few blogs have provided you with information that will help you to ease the pain of headaches. Chiropractic care has also been shown to be effective with headaches. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to see if we can help you, please contact us.