Headache Sufferers Can Find Relief

Feb. 16, 2000
The American Chiropractic Association offers suggestions on how to avoid headaches.

If you have a headache, you are not alone. Nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches.

Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache?

Some people grit their teeth and carry on, others pop a pill and hope the pain goes away.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says there is a better alternative. However, first, you need to find out what is causing the pain.

Headaches have many causes, such as diet and disease.

Approximately 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems, according to ACA.

However, 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine or cluster headaches.

"The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck," said Dr. George B. McClelland, a chiropractor from Christianburg, Va., and member of the ACA's board of governors.

"Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache."

So, how do you avoid headaches? ACA suggests the following.

  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a full range of motion.
  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches.
  • Avoid teeth clenching. This results in tension of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) -- the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull -- leading to TMJ and tension headaches.
  • Drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.

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