The Safest Way to Combat Cluster Headaches
By Dr. Molly Casey
Most people have suffered from a headache at least once or twice in their life. Many have them regularly. There are different types and causes of headaches. Cluster headaches are more debilitating than most headache types. My hope is that you don’t have any first-hand knowledge about the symptoms, the causes or the treatment. If you do, you have some level of experience with them and you know they can be particularly gruesome. If the information in this article resonates with you, consider visiting your chiropractor at The Joint to get some help.
Cluster headaches are rare, affecting 1 percent of the population; 85 percent affected are male, 15 percent are female. The onset is immediate (unlike migraines that are generally gradual) with extreme pain. They are called cluster because they occur in multiples, meaning a headache, relief for a period of time, headache, relief from pain, headache, relief, and so goes the cycle. The duration of each headache can be from 15 minutes up to three hours.
The pain is most frequently described as having a hot poker being stuck in the eye. The pain is excruciating affecting one eye. It may extend to the forehead, cheek area, head, and neck. The affected eye can also have associated drooping, redness, sweating and/or tearing. The nose can be stuffy on the same side as the affected eye. Nausea and vomiting may or may not be present.
There is no known cause but the experiences seem to be very cyclical as with the time of year and the day and time that they present. It is common that there can be a lapse for years between the cluster experiences.
Can Chiropractic Help?
In short, yes, it can help. The longer answer: When the cause of an issue is unknown, it’s not logical to think one can specifically know what will rectify the problem; however, one can look at the structure of the machine (your body), how it functions, how it heals, and deduce certain steps that may assist in the healing process. Chiropractic care can assist in the healing process.
When your body is having symptoms such as cluster headaches, it’s clearly telling you in some way that your body isn’t functioning optimally. The beauty of chiropractic is that it facilitates optimal functioning of the entire body by improving brain-body communication. The chiropractic adjustment achieves proper communication through restoration of joint motion and proper nervous system functioning. In the case of cluster headaches, chiropractors look specifically at the upper cervical joints (upper neck). C1 (the first vertebrae in the neck known as the Atlas) is the most frequently subluxated (misaligned) joint when patients have headaches. When joint motion is restored through the adjustment, the nervous system can relax and function with greater ease; the cervical spine muscles can decrease in tightness and rigidity that’s often experienced with the headaches. Each individual responds differently, but each may experience great relief.
My hope is you never experience cluster headaches. If you do, no doctor can promise you a miracle treatment. However, I can promise you through chiropractic adjustments that we can improve the basic functioning of your body and nervous system -- and yes, patients often find relief from the cluster headache symptoms. If you know from first-hand experience, head to The Joint and let one of its chiropractors provide some guidance, care and relief.
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