Dr. Stephen Kaufman
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Headaches and Neck Pain
Headaches are one of those things that most medical doctors give you pain relievers for and say " learn to live with it." Sometimes you think they get a class in "learn to live with it 101" ! The best approach to headaches is prevention, which I will detail in a moment. There are very effective treatment procedures available, however. Over the past 25 years I have devised an extremely effective program to treat headaches, without drugs. Most headaches, even migraines, arise from a problem with the muscles of the neck, face and skull. We have developed treatments to effectively relieve these muscle spasms, by gently moving the head and neck into certain positions. Although some times spinal adjustments may help, we almost never "pop" or "crack" necks. Many patients dislike that form of treatment, and we have a much gentler, more effective method.
The North American Cervicogenic Headache Society is a group of medical
doctors and chiropractors who share the belief that many headaches are
caused by improper function and alignment of the neck. There is a lot of
research to show that this is often the case.
Many gentle methods are available to align the neck so that it don't cause pain. Very light pressure at different acupressure points as well as mild , completely painless touch on the different bones and muscles of the neck will often get rid of a headache.
Other factors that may need to be treated with headaches are trigger points (areas of spasm) in the neck and shoulder muscles. Frequently, pressing on one of the points in just the right fashion will cause a temporary pain exactly like the headache. Treatment of these points will often prevent the headache from returning. Trigger point therapy was originally developed by Janet Travell, M.D., one of President John F. Kennedy's physicians.
Another treatment of value in headaches is cranial therapy. This technique was developed by osteopaths early in the century, and consists of light pressure on the various bones of the skull in an effort to change the fluid pressure inside the head. The skull is not one solid bone but is made up of 22 separate bones. These have as slight amount of give to them and can be manipulated to effect changes in the head and brain.
Many headaches are allergic in nature and arise from sinus problems. Cranial therapy directed to the nasal bones can relieve pressure in them and reduce these headaches. Toxins in the bowels may also cause headaches and detoxification measures may relieve and prevent pain.
Dr. James Cyriax, M.D., an English orthopedic surgeon, developed a method of neck adjustment with traction, which I have practiced for 8 years and find to be very effective during a severe headache, even if other chiropractic treatments haven't helped. One of many patients who come to mind is Sue, who had been having debilitating headaches after a serious auto accident. She had seen two other chiropractors who had manipulated her neck regularly for almost a year, with no relief. I adjusted her neck several times under traction and her headaches completely stopped.
There IS an immediate biofeedback trick that works very reliably (for vascular headaches only) within about 10 minutes. It works on the basis that when hand blood vessels dilate, cerebral vessels constrict (and vice versa). That is why all migraine sufferers have cold hands. When the "aura" appears is the most effective time to use this--that way the headache never occurs. However, even after the throbbing headache starts, it still will be stopped within about 10 minutes. The procedure can be repeated if the headache starts to come back:
Run the kitchen sink full of as hot a water as one can stand. The trick is to keep the water at the limit of tolerance the whole time. It must stay uncomfortable for the full 10 minutes. Place the arms and hands (up to and including the elbows) in the water. As the skin becomes tolerant of the heat, more hot water must be added. It is not necessary to burn yourself, it just must stay uncomfortable. Within 10 minutes the headache will be gone. If, once this has been successful a few times, the headache comes on where it is not convenient to the sink; just sitting quietly, away from distractions, and imagining EXACTLY how it felt to do this will stop the headache just as quickly.
The above is not a cure. However, it works as quickly as IV morphine, is safe, inexpensive and gives the patient a sense of control they can't get any other way.
As I mentioned earlier, prevention is much better than treatment. A
study in England several years ago found that 89% of school children
with severe headaches got relief when foods that they were allergic to
were discovered and removed from their diet. In other words, close to
90% of people with headaches may be allergic to some foods which are causing
their headaches. Common offenders include chocolate, sugar, coffee,
dairy, wheat, eggs, citrus, yeast, and pork. I have also seen patients
who were triggered by onions and garlic. Almost any food may be a
trigger: try to avoid the most common ones and see if that helps. If
not, specific food testing may be of great value. Candida (yeast
infections) in the bowels or sinuses may also play a role.
Cold drafts or eating cold foods may cause a headache. Lack of sleep, jaw muscle tension, poor posture, dust or mold sensitivity may also be factors. All of these can be avoid if you're careful.
Recent research has found several nutritional substances can be extremely effective for treating and preventing headaches, especially migraines.
400 mgs a day.
Niacin- chewing a 300-500 mg. tablet may abort a headache, preferably on an empty stomach.
Folic acid- 15-20 mgs a day in a liquid form. The drops are held under the tongue for 30 seconds. A high potency complex should be taken daily to prevent an imbalance developing.
Feverfew - 3-6 tablets a day of a standardized extract.
is an herb used in Europe for many years with a 60% success rate.
Magnesium- 300 -600 mgs a day
Melatonin - 10-20 mgs a day. However this high a dose should only be used under a doctor's supervision.
5 Hydroxytryptophan- 100-800 mgs a day. This should be used under a doctor's supervision. It shouldn't be taken with antidepressant medication. Tyrosine -3000 mgs. a day, augments the effect of the 5HTP.
orotate and calcium orotate are specifically useful for preventing
Liquid Potassium- 600-800 mgs a day, used under a doctor's supervision.
Gamma Linolenic Acid- 300-1000 mgs. a day
Max EPA, fish liver oil, containing EPA and DHA- 1 TBS's. a day. Vitamin E, 200- 400 units a day, should always be taken with fish oil.
All of these are available from Natural Ways (619) 275-2293.
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