With headaches being a common ailment, people are looking to your for relief and chiropractic instruments are often an effective treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that headache-related disorders “are among the most common disorders of the nervous system,” with one out of two people reportedly experiencing some level of head pain within the previous 12 months. However, regardless of the fact that headaches appear to occur with relatively high frequency in the population at large, WHO goes on to indicate that this particular cluster of conditions is “underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.”
As a DC, this means that a large majority of your patients are potentially suffering with headaches of some sort, yet many are not receiving the treatment necessary to help ease their pain. The major problem with this, other than the fact that people may be needlessly struggling when a viable treatment option exists, is that the favored remedy has become opioid-based pain killers, thus resulting in problems all its own.
The opioid epidemic
In May 2014, Nora D. Volkow, PhD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addressed the Senate Caucus on international narcotics control and explained that we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. To illustrate this point, Volkow said that somewhere between 26 and 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids, the category of drugs most regularly prescribed for chronic pains such as headaches. While this is troublesome on its own, it is also leading to an increase in opioid-related deaths.
Not only are opioids addictive, thus affecting a person’s brain and its processes, Volkow explained that they also negatively impact the body. As an example, she indicated that opioids often “produce drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, and constipation”—all physical responses that lower a person’s quality of life. Thus, patients are looking for more natural treatment options for headache pain for both mental and physical reasons.
While manual chiropractic manipulation can sometimes provide this type of much-needed relief, the use of chiropractic instruments can often enhance the process. Research confirms it.
Chiropractic care for headaches
A 2011 review of twenty-one different studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics concluded that chiropractic in general “improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.” However, there have been additional studies done which outline the benefits of mechanical or instrument-aided adjustments specifically.
For instance, one case study, published in the Chiropractic Journal of Australia in June 2016, involved an 89-year-old male who struggled with tension headaches daily and migraine headaches on an occasional basis. Although both of these types of headaches began after sustaining an injury in World War II and were further compounded by traffic crashes he’d been in decades later, 12 weeks of chiropractic using the Activator Methods in conjunction with the Torque Release Technique resolved his headaches completely.
Another piece of research involved individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition described by The Ehlers-Danlos Society as “a collection of heritable connective tissue disorders.” This study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in September 2003, and consisted of two people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome who complained of various pains all over their bodies, one of which was headaches.
Both were treated with instruments (and manually) in addition to being provided information about how to improve their posture. After engaging in instrument-aided chiropractic, researchers reported that the participants experienced “significant improvement in self-reported pain and disability” as well as improvements in spinal alignment.
This caused them to conclude that “low-force chiropractic adjusting techniques may be a preferred technique of choice in patients with tissue fragility, offering clinicians a viable alternative to traditional chiropractic care in attempting to minimize risks and side effects associated with spinal manipulation.”
In short, the use of instruments can help your patients ease if not entirely resolve the headaches that plague them. This is perhaps especially true when it comes to certain segments of the population.