We all get headaches, and as a population we are experiencing them with more severity and frequency than ever before. The stresses of life have increased exponentially over the years. Many of us sit in front of computers for work, look at our tablets and smartphones non-stop, and are on the go constantly.
So then we turn to pharmaceuticals, prescribed and over the counter, to help relieve the discomfort. But in doing so we are only treating the symptom, not the cause. Studies show the increased use of anti-migraine medications like triptans and ergot alkaloids. Although preventive therapies such as the use of anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers have increased in usage as well, they remain pharmaceutical solutions to an ever growing ubiquitous problem.
We take off time from work when we go to numerous doctor appointments, get myriad of tests, and they continue to all show no conclusive results as to the why we keep feeling so bad. We go to the chiropractor, the physical therapist, the masseuse, but achieve only temporary results. A study, which reviewed over 144 million patient visits, shows a persistent overuse of low-value, high-cost services, such as advanced imaging (i.e. CAT scans, MRIs) and the prescription of opioids and barbiturates.
So, we have decreased productivity not only from missing work, but also due to the constant pain we experience while at work. How can we stop this vicious cycle and actually get to feeling better and being more productive?
I recommend a visit to the dentist! The majority of headaches, and head and neck pain in general, is directly linked to your bite (occlusion). Not only can we alleviate the discomfort, but also fix the root of the problem – how your teeth come together.
If teeth are misaligned, then the forces from regular everyday chewing, as well as grinding and clenching (bruxism) will exacerbate those forces and how they affect the longevity of your teeth. When your teeth are not aligned in a healthy position, it will cause your enamel to wear and break off. Also, your facial musculature and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) will adjust to an malaligned occlusion, and that’s why you feel tightness in the muscles, and pain. This pain then radiates down into the neck and shoulders, as well as up to the head thereby causing headaches and/or migraines.
So don’t just treat your headaches by popping some pills, or getting a massage. Get dental care to align your teeth into their proper healthy position, then get an oral appliance to ensure that they stay that way and to protect your teeth for the future. Including a daily head & neck stretching routine, as well as limiting your time in front of the computer, or looking down at your smartphone or tablet, will greatly decrease your risk of getting a headache.
Be sure to check out the next installment in my series of how to conservatively treat headaches and neck pain without popping pills regularly. I’ll include other treatment options, as well as tips as to what you can do on a daily basis to keep yourself headache free!