OPINION – My head is just killing me! For many of us this is an often too common phrase that escapes our lips. Whether we are waking up with a throbbing in our head or after a long day of work there is that searing pain behind our eyeballs, headaches are nagging and can, for some of us, be quite debilitating. Unfortunately the conventional paradigm is to pop a couple of Advil and call it a day, but have you stopped to think about what that Advil is really doing to your body?
When patients ask me whether I approve of this method of self-medicating I relate this analogy to them. Imagine you are driving in your car and you see the check engine light come on in your dashboard. This generally is indicative of some mechanical/electrical issue that needs to be addressed in your vehicle. Now lets say that you take a piece of black electrical tape and place it over that check engine light. Have you corrected the problem? Is the mechanical error now magically fixed? We all realize that the answer to this is no, all that we have accomplished is to mask the problem or pretend that it doesn’t exist. This is exactly what we are doing when we take a couple of Advil or Tylenol. We aren’t correcting anything.
One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. A simple and easy way to correct this problem is to radically increase your intake of water. Notice I said water. Coffee, beer, wine, soda all of these are liquids yes but more times then not they can actual tip the hydration scale towards the negative side of dehydration. If you are an individual who is already very conscious about your hydration levels I would encourage you to look at your daily habits. Do you sit in front of a computer for the majority of your day? The muscles on either side of your neck on top of your shoulders are called your trapezius muscles. Feel them, do they feel soft and pliable or are they taut and hard like a slab of granite? If the answer is the latter a gentle stretch bringing your ear to your shoulder can help to relax these muscles and decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches.
If you have tried both of these to no avail then it is time to seek out the help of a health professional. Chiropractors take a natural approach to health and look to the root cause of the problem. Getting the bones in your neck in proper alignment can do wonders for headaches and migraines.
By Dr. Anthony Rayman