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Dr. David Graham
Headaches fall into the pain category, so the primary treatment medically is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs). Headaches are a more interesting pain, and often they laugh at even powerful NSAIDs. So,
pharmaceuticals have gotten more creative, mixing caffeine with NSAIDs, or using serotonin drugs (Imitrex).
Caffeine and Imitrex are both “stimulators” of the brain, which causes vasoconstriction (arteries constrict).
and fix the underlying problem.
A huge help in finding out why is describing the pain. If the pain is vascular, you might describe the pain as
throbbing or pulsing. If the pain is inflammatory you might describe the pain as burning. If the pain is of
mechanical origin, you might describe it as aching.
If we decide the headache is vascular, such as a migraine type, we would want to check for nervous system
irritation centrally, as in the brain stem. We might see an inability of the pupil to constrict to light, or the palate
in your throat to elevate when you say “Ahhh.”
Something that irritates the nervous system would be called a “trigger” for the headache. The trigger can be
mechanical, such as an injury to the jaw (TMJ) or head (cranial bones) that could require a mechanical
treatment to fix a vascular problem.
There are a variety of chemical triggers, including foods, MSG, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners,
preservatives (I don’t think we should be eating these anyway, headache or not). Chemicals your body
makes could trigger the nervous system, such as insulin, cortisol, adrenaline, or other hormones.
Muscle testing offers a fast and inexpensive method of testing a wide variety of potential triggers, to see what
you neurologically weaken or strengthen from, and at the very least get a starting point for elimination.
If we decide the headache is inflammatory, we must check for causes of inflammation. I would not just use an
anti-inflammatory drug (maybe the one time), as this merely disguises the inflammatory process.
The process of inflammation involves liver function, including fat metabolism, and possibly immune irritation.
Fat metabolism is generally improved with the addition of fish oils, so that would be a great starting point.
Liver stressors and immune irritators can include allergens, bugs (virus, bacteria, molds, etc), toxic chemicals
and elements such as pesticides, mercury and lead. Any foreign (unnatural) chemical could be involved. I
found a lotion that one patient was using was causing immune irritation.
If we decide the headache is mechanical, we will check the spine, particularly the upper neck, but a quick scan
of posture could show that the pelvis is what is crooked. The jaw and teeth should also be considered, as
they refer pain to the face and head, and often can be gently manipulated or treated for injury to the gum line
or jaw muscles. Also consider muscle tension points (trigger points) in the neck that can be treated easily
using compression, often with immediate pain relief if they are causing it.
Barring a hangover, this 3 point assessment and treatment should handle most all headache issues, and
permanently (not just until tomorrow)! Give us a call to stop your headaches, permanently.
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For Appointments Call: (828) 253-5844