"I wish I had seen a chiropractor sooner." The declaration comes unsolicited from Brett Cimino, a plumber who, for 10 years, has suffered from headaches nearly every day and debilitating migraines two to four times a month. "As soon as I began getting adjusted, I noticed a difference. A year later, I am on a maintenance plan now and to say I have had six headaches (of any kind) in the last year would be an overstatement."
According to Dr. Jeffrey Robitaille of Robitaille Family Chiropractic in Rhode Island, 1 in 6 Americans suffers from chronic headaches. But like Cimino, many people overlook seeing a chiropractor for headache pain. "I waited more than a year before I made an appointment with a chiropractor. I guess I had some misconceptions about what a chiropractor does," says Cimino. "But after seeing the results, I don't know why I waited so long."
Every day, chiropractors hear similar stories from hundreds of people like Cimino who have been suffering for years with pain and are at their wits end because the only thing offered to them by their physicians and specialists are more drugs. As Dr. Robitaille explains, many people think headaches are normal and take over-the-counter or prescription drugs to relieve the pain. "But these drugs only dull the pain," he says, "they don't treat the cause, which is why the headache returns."
In addition to chronic headaches, chiropractic care is also effective in treating tension headaches. A recent study released by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research finds that individuals undergoing chiropractic therapy showed sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity compared with patients who took the drug amitriptyline, a commonly prescribed medication for tension headaches.
"The conclusion of the study shows that chiropractic is not actually a therapy or treatment, but rather gets to the cause of the problem, thus allowing the body to effect a correction that lasts beyond actual care," says Dr. Robitaille.
While many people associate chiropractic care as a treatment for bad backs, there is growing documentation that chiropractic is also effective in the treatment of cervicogenic headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. In fact, the American Chiropractic Association reports that 14 percent of the public who see chiropractors presently go for headaches.
However, much of the general public continues to use the traditional medical practitioner route for headache treatment, with little success. The problem, says Dr. Robitaille, rests in the six misconceptions about headache relief. They are listed below, followed by his explanation:
1. Over-The-Counter Medication Treat The Cause Of Your Headache.
"Drugs only numb the pain. If these drugs treated the real cause, your headaches would go away permanently. None of us were born with too few Advil in our blood. A lack of drugs is not the cause."
2. Headache Medication Can't Harm You.
"On the contrary, drugs can cause side effects that can be far worse than the headache pain you're trying to relieve."
3. Stress Causes Headaches.
"Although stress is a part of life, it is not the cause of headaches. Rather, it's how your body adapts to stress that affects your health. Chiropractic care can provide ways to help you increase your body's ability to adapt to stress of any kind."
4. Headaches Go Away On Their Own.
"Without treating the cause, or root of the problem, they won't."
5. All Doctors Know How To Treat Headaches.
"If this were true, no one would suffer from headaches. Chiropractors offer natural alternatives that do not involve drugs or invasive treatments."
6. Your Problem Is Always Where Your Pain Is.
"In fact, not all headaches originate in the head. For instance, a person who suffered a neck injury at some point in their life, whether from a car accident, playing sports, or a fall as a child, could suffer head pain later on. These are called cervicogenic headaches because they result from tension of the neck and head muscles."