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Better Ways to Treat Headaches & Migraines

Headaches are one of the most common conditions known to man. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches, either occasionally or on a more chronic basis. Headaches are divided into primary headaches (which account for 95% of headaches) and those headaches that signal another physical condition.

Headaches can be dull, sharp, throbbing or extremely painful, as in migraine or cluster headaches. Nausea can be another symptom, along with increased sensitivity to light and sound. Several factors can trigger headache onset, the most common triggers include stress, tension, allergies, too much alcohol, colds and flu viruses, insomnia, and even food.

While medication is often the first treatment choice for headache and migraine sufferers, there are also drug-free options such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage that have proven to be highly effective while eliminating the risk of dangerous side effects. The Consensus Statement on Acupuncture by the National Institutes of Health, released in 1997, stated that acupuncture was useful as an additional treatment or an acceptable alternative in a comprehensive pain management program for conditions including headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, and others. And one recent study showed the effects to be long-lasting, with acupuncture treatment reducing chronic pain in the neck and shoulder areas and associated headache for months.

For centuries, massage therapy has been used to alleviate stress and promote general wellness. It has also proven to be a remarkably effective means for combating chronic pain and improving range of motion, and can even be used to fight off headaches and depression. Non-invasive and extremely safe, massage therapy can be utilized on its own or as a supplement to physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and a host of other therapies.

Originally published in Think Teachers Magazine

Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.

Questions About Sciatica Answered

What is Sciatica?
Back injury doctors will tell you that sciatica is a condition in which pain originating from the low back or buttock area travels down one or both legs. The pain of sciatica has been described as achy, sharp, tingling, or has sometimes been likened to electric shocks. Pain can be mild, moderate or severe, infrequent or constant, depending on the degree of nerve involvement.

What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is usually caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve originating at the base of the spine. This compression can be caused by subluxations (misalignment) of the lower spine; herniated or bulging discs; pregnancy and childbirth (when pelvic bones shift and the tissues surrounding them are softer and more movable); tumors or diabetes.

Sciatica is often a result of Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower spine and is involved in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve is located directly beneath the piriformis muscle, so any injury or disorder affecting this muscle can result in pinching of the sciatic nerve.

How Does a Back Pain Specialist Treat Sciatica?
Initially the doctor will need to accurately diagnose the cause of a patient’s sciatica. This involves taking the patient’s medical history, conducting a thorough physical and neurological examination and employing various diagnostic tests, including X-ray, MRI, CT scans and, if needed nerve testing including electromyography. In most cases, sciatica can be treated non-surgically and non-invasively.

Therapy will be customized based on the most effective way for the patient’s body to begin to heal itself, and may include physical therapy, ice/cold therapy, electrical stimulation (TENS), and spinal manipulation. Advanced therapies such as spinal decompression and deep tissue medical laser therapy can also create dramatic results.

Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.