If you often find yourself with a headache at the end of the work day, they may be caused by neck and upper back strain. Working in a way that forces you to hold your head and neck in the same position for long periods creates tense muscles in your upper back and neck. A visit to your chiropractor on your way home will relieve the muscle tension and pain. Here is how a chiropractor treats these types of headaches.
Tense Muscles and Irritated Nerves
A number of things happen when you stress the muscles in your upper back and neck:
- The muscles become tired and contract.
- The circulation through these tense muscles is reduced.
- Inflammation can occur in the area.
- Nerves traveling through these tense muscles become irritated and cause headaches.
- When the muscles are severely stressed, they may tighten up in a knot and have spasms.
Chiropractic treatment focuses on relaxing the tense muscles, which reduces all of these other symptoms from the muscle strain.
Treatment of Tension Headaches
Your chiropractor will recommend one or more of the following treatments depending on how severe the muscle tension is in your upper back and neck.
Chiropractic Adjustments - Prolonged irritation and swelling of the muscles around the spine may have caused some of the vertebrae to become slightly misaligned. Usually occurring in the first two vertebrae in the spine, even a small misalignment creates tension in the muscles and nerves. Your chiropractor may recommend a spinal adjustment, where the spine is slowly moved around to realign the vertebrae.
Active Release Technique (ART) - The chiropractor will feel along your back and neck for tense muscle groups. When detected, the doctor will massage the muscles in the direction of their normal movement. This slowly stretches out the contracted muscles to their normal length. This increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and stops the nerve irritation which causes the headaches.
Myofascial Release Technique (MRT) - Knotted muscles won't respond to the gentle massage of ART, so the chiropractor must use a different technique. When a muscle knot is detected, the doctor will use their knuckles or a special tool to put pressure directly on the knot. Steady pressure over a period of time on the muscle causes it to relax. Subsequent massage of the muscle causes it to relax into its normal state. Once relaxed, the muscle spasms stop and any pain is relieved.
Physical Therapy - If you've had a stiff and painful neck for some time, the chiropractor may want to do hot packs, cold packs and massage on your upper back and neck. Your may have a number of irritated muscles that need to be relaxed to get rid of the stiff, painful neck. Hot packs increase circulation and warm up the muscles so they are easier to stretch. Range of motion massage is then done to move your muscles slowly through all of their normal motions to stretch them out. Cold packs after the treatment reduce inflammation that may be caused during the treatment.
For a chiropractor, contact an office such as Back & Neck Pain Center.