Dr. Lipoff: How to Treat Headaches without Drugs

Everyone knows what a headache is, but is it normal. The correct answer is no. It is not normal to get headaches just like it isn’t normal for your teeth to hurt or your car to pull to one side.

If you are like one of the 20 million Americans that have headaches, you know they can be debilitating and ruin your day or week. Headaches are a symptom of something being wrong in the body. They have different signs and severity and can be caused by spinal issues, tight muscles, poor posture, bad habits and tumors.

That’s why a doctor is a good place to try to find a solution versus throwing down a handful of your spouse’s pills to see what happens.

In your lifetime at least 95 percent of all women and 90 percent of men will experience a headache. All of this pain will account for over 150 million missed days of work and $13 billion in lost productivity.

Many people take medicine but that only temporarily helps the symptoms. It’s like taping over a hole in a damn. It temporarily stops the symptom of water leaking out but hasn’t corrected the problem. My question would be why do I have headaches? What is causing them? How can I stop them?

Now I’m fine with medications if they help you get headache relief so you can sleep or are able to work but what about preventing them and solving what causes them? That’s where you need to look a little further.

Relatives used to tease us about sitting up straight and keeping our heads up. Research shows they were right. In fact, proper body posture and ergonomics play a major role in a lot of the things we do on a daily basis. Placing your neck or head in an unnatural or vulnerable position while exercising, driving or at home, are things that can lead to a headache.

Headaches are also caused by spinal problems and muscle tightness like experienced after playing sports or being in a vehicular accident.

Topics in Integrative Healthcare published this study titled, “Chiropractic Management of Post-concussion Headache and Neck Pain In a Young Athlete and Implications For Return-To-Play.” After 5 treatments over 2 weeks the athlete improved completely.

The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine had a 2012 case study of a 32 year old woman who had headaches for 5 month. After 2 treatments she was much batter and in 2 weeks her symptoms were gone.

Does it work for everyone? No. BUT I’ve seen it help so many people when all other options were exhausted you would be crazy not to try it.

Basically there are two main classifications of headaches. The first type is a primary headache, which includes: migraine, tension, cervicogenic (headache caused by problems in the neck or cervical spine), and cluster headaches. These headache types are the most common, comprising 90 percent of all headaches and have no associated medical condition. A secondary headache can result from tumors, infections, etc., and account for less than 10 percent of all headaches.

Some common symptoms associated with the majority of headaches are: sharp, throbbing pain in different regions of the head; constant ache, localized neck or occipital (base of skull) pain precipitated by abnormal movements. The range of motion in the neck will be decreased and your posture may be altered due to hypertonic (tight) muscles, which may also be tender. Occasionally a visual disturbance can also be associated with headaches.

Dr. Peter Rothbart, MD, FRCPC, President of the North American Cervicogenic Headache Society, proclaimed in the Toronto Star, “We’ve been able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches- not all headaches, but a significant number of them.”

Correcting your neck’s alignment reduces stress in the discs, muscles and the facet joint, which has been linked to 54 – 60 percent of chronic neck pain and 58 – 88 percent of chronic headaches. Only manipulation; not aspirin, not Motrin, not Tylenol, is going to fix that.

These findings support the importance of proper posture and alignment of the neck to reduce facet joint pain, unless you enjoy getting headaches.

But before we correct the spine, we have use some heat, work on some muscles, dig into a few knots, correct your nasty posture habits and at some point may even direct you to do some strengthening exercises to keep you better. It works people.

Stop complaining and do something different because whatever you are trying isn’t helping. Your family is tired of hear all of your complaining. I’m not sure even I’m ready for it, but bring it on. I’d love to help you.

Noted Researcher Nikolai Bogduk, MD, PhD, Professor of Anatomy at Newcastle, Australia, commented: “The model for cervicogenic headache, (headache caused by the neck), is not only the best evolved of all headaches but is testable in vivo, in patients with headache complaints.”

Another overlooked source of headaches is eyestrain. When was your last eye exam? Are you supposed to be wearing glasses but you forget or don’t think you look good in them? Make sure your prescription is current and put them on. Some people look great with glasses.

So stop doing what you’re doing if it isn’t helping you enjoy the quality of life you enjoy and go see a chiropractic doctor.

Dr. Jay M. Lipoff is the owner of Back At Your Best Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, LLC, which is located in the Wildewood Shopping Center. Dr. Lipoff is also the author of “Back At Your Best; Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body.” It is available in book and Kindle format at Amazon.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1990, a Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) in 1994 and he became a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) in 2005.

Dr. Lipoff is an Executive Board Member, International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science; has a radio segment: Back At Your Best in 5 Minutes or Less, President and Founder; Foundation 4 Heroes, Contributing writer, Huffington Post’ Co-Founder, Drug Free Training USA; Member, NY Strength-promoting the importance of physical conditioning; Board Member of Public Relations Committee, Maryland Chiropractic Association; has spoken on nationally broadcasted radio interviews, has articles in print and referenced in over 100 print papers, magazine and on websites, President, Wildewood Business Network-promoting better business relations and community outreach.

For more information, go to, find us on facebook, or call 301-863-BEST (2378).

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