The benefits of chiropractic adjustments are diverse and well-documented. From injury recovery to improved spinal health, patients can experience healthier outcomes thanks to the expertise of doctors of chiropractic.
There’s no question the benefits of chiropractic visits are well worth the investment, and they are safe. However, one potential side effect is patient post-treatment headaches and migraines. Though many patients might not experience this side effect, helping your patients prep for the possibility can help them avoid these headaches and elevate their experience.
What causes post-treatment chiropractic headaches?
To best combat chiropractic headaches, the source of the headaches must be addressed. The potential causes of these headaches vary from patient to patient, but there are a few common triggers.
Relief of stress and muscle tension
Chiropractic adjustment is well–known for relieving muscular tension and related stress. The benefits of alleviating this tension are significant, ranging from better postural alignment to reduced pain. However, the deep release of built-up tension can lead to temporary headaches.
Correction of misalignments
If a patient has been suffering from spinal misalignment for a significant period of time, the correction provided by chiropractic adjustment can come as a shock to the body and nervous system. On rare occasions, they might experience a brief headache as a result.
How to avoid and treat chiropractic headaches
The benefits of chiropractic adjustment far outweigh the temporary discomfort that may come with post-treatment headaches. Still, it is best to avoid these headaches when possible and treat them properly if they do occur.
If a patient has risk factors, such as a propensity for headaches or extreme muscle tension, be transparent about the possibility of headaches before you perform adjustments. Explain that, while they are rare, post-treatment headaches can occur. Then, alleviate any fears by assuring them these headaches are normal, not serious and will dissipate quickly.
Acclimate new patients
While not a hard and fast rule, patients who have not received chiropractic care before may be more susceptible to headaches. This is simply due to the excess muscle tension andand spinal misalignment their body is experiencing.
By easing these individuals into chiropractic care and giving their bodies an opportunity to acclimate over time, it may be possible to reduce the potential for and frequency of headaches.
Dehydration is a well-known contributor to headaches. Encourage patients to stay hydrated before, during and after their sessions. This will help the body recover and reduce the risk of a post-treatment headache.
Focus on relaxation, rest and stretching
Tension and the release thereof can lead to headaches after a chiropractic adjustment. The body needs time to properly recover — without it, side effects like headaches become more likely.
Give patients an opportunity to rest during the session and encourage them to do so after. Part of this rest and recovery should be active in the form of relaxation techniques and gentle stretches. Give patients appropriate exercises to perform that can aid in reducing tension and relieving headaches.
Use medication if necessary
Most chiropractic headaches are mild and short-lived. If a headache does persist, the use of over-the-counter pain relief medications is acceptable. Be sure to take the patient’s overall health and other medications and supplements into account when recommending this approach, and defer to another healthcare professional if need be.
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