No one wants a headache to last any longer than it has to. In fact, the tens of million Americans who suffer from headaches spend about a billion dollars per year on medical expenses. But are over-the-counter painkillers and prescription medications the only way to cope with headaches. We’re going to share a list of the 10 most shocking ways to get rid of headaches. The last one will focus on a natural therapy that has been helping many patients in case studies.
If you’ve never heard of biofeedback, this is a process that monitors how the body is functioning – everything from your blood pressure to the temperature of your skin. Then, the practitioner helps the patient to learn how to control bodily response. For example, knowing exactly what changes your body goes through when you get stressed out may help you to control the body’s stress response. If stress is a headache trigger for you, this may reduce the number of headaches you experience.
Acupuncture involves the use of very thin needles. These needles are inserted under the skin at very particular points on the body to alleviate certain conditions. While research is limited, there is some evidence that acupuncture may help with tension headaches.
#3 Massage Therapy
Massage is a great way to relieve stress and tension. This, in turn, may help a patient to fight tension headaches. Massage therapy can also have overall positive benefits for the immune system. Some research indicates it may even help patients to sleep better, which would certainly help with headaches since lack of sleep is a common trigger.
Exercise benefits the vascular system, boosts mood, and can be a great stress reliever. As a result, daily physical activity addresses a number of the potential underlying causes of headaches. You can improve the flow of blood to your head, reduce stress that can trigger headaches, and release good hormones in the body by walking, biking, jogging, swimming, or taking part in some other form of exercise for as little as 20 minutes per day.
Pilates and other active forms of stretching are not only good exercise but can also be a relaxing activity. Stretching requires that you focus on the particular muscles you are trying to increase flexibility for. This, in turn, will allow to you avoid stressful thoughts and may even promote healthier breathing practices.
#6 Cold or Heat
Should you use cold or heat for your headaches? It depends on the cause. If you are suffering from tension in the neck and back, ice can reduce inflammation and help to limit the tension. If you’ve suffered a head trauma, ice is vital to reduce swelling. However once swelling has gone down and you want to promote healing, heat sends more blood flow to the area. In most cases, when it comes to headaches at least, ice is better.
#7 Watch Your Diet
There are certain foods and drinks that seem to contribute to more frequent or severe headaches. While research is limited, patients commonly report that foods containing MSG, nitrates, and nitrites are headache triggers. That means you have to check the label on all processed foods and limit things like cured meats and aged cheeses. Alcohol can also lead to headaches since it dehydrates the body, so if you choose to drink you should do so in moderation.
#8 Botulism Toxin
More commonly known as Botox, the fact that toxin is in the name should keep most people away from this controversial form of care. Botox is better known as a wrinkle reducer administered by cosmetic surgeons. Research has shown that the number of migraines suffered by patients who get Botox is slightly less than those in a placebo group and the FDA has approved the injections as a treatment for chronic migraines. However, to say the side effects may not be worth it is an understatement, no matter how bad your migraines are.
#9 Electrode Implants
This is another therapy we hope you stay away from, but we didn’t want to leave anything out. Electrode implants are surgically implanted near the base of the skull in an attempt to override the pain signals. This may not even actually stop the headache from happening as much as it may deaden the nerves so that you don’t feel it. Surgery should be a last resort (as should intentionally shocking your occipital nerve).
#10 Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
This may be the simplest and most natural way of all to combat headaches. When the top two bones of the spine are out of alignment, they can affect brainstem function, blood flow to the brain, cerebrospinal fluid drainage, and more. These factors, in turn, lead to headaches or migraines. Thus, upper cervical chiropractic, a subspecialty of chiropractic, may be able to get to the underlying source of migraines and provide long-lasting relief.
If you suffer from headaches or migraines, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, we encourage you to find a practitioner in your area. Adjustments are gentle (none of the popping or cracking of general chiropractic) and are designed to be long-lasting. This makes the adjustment safe and gives your body more time to heal from the effects of the misalignment. In the end, a consultation may be your first step down the path to fewer headaches or even finally becoming headache-free.