Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘migraine’

What Type of Headache Do You Have?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Most often, when you experience a headache you don’t care what “type” of headache it is… you just want it to go away. Unfortunately, without knowing what type of headache you’re having, you can’t effectively treat it. Whether you are attempting to alleviate it on your own, or getting assistance from your doctor, it is imperative to determine what type of headache you are having in order to get to the underlying cause.

There are many types of headache, but the most frequently diagnosed with common characteristics are shown in the illustration to the right.

Americans spend billions of dollars every year on medications for the relief of headache pain, but these often just mask the pain. Although, this is sometimes necessary, it is only half the battle. You wouldn’t unplug the “Check Engine” light without afterward trying to find out why it came on in the first place, would you? If you must resort to pharmaceutical intervention for temporary relief of headache pain, at least take the steps to find out why you developed the headache in the first place.

Eyestrain Headaches are fairly simple to recognize… and relatively easy to correct. Usually, one just needs to get their prescription updated and wear the proper corrective lenses. However, these types of headache can also be caused by prolonged use of a computer even if your vision is fine. To correct this situation, you need to do three things: place an inexpensive anti-glare screen on your monitor (available at any office supply), change the height of your monitor so it places your head in a neutral position (not looking down to it), and force yourself to get up and stretch at least once every 60-90 minutes.

Hunger Headaches are also easily recognized and avoided. Make sure to have a light healthy snack (fruit, veggies, nuts, etc… make sure they are complex carbs) every couple of hours to help your body more easily balance blood sugar levels. Avoid simple sugars that lead to spikes in blood sugar levels followed by the crash that triggers these headaches.

Sinus Headaches should be evaluated to determine if there is an active infection. This does not mean rush out and get the latest antibiotic trendsetter! Most sinus infections are viral in origin, and antibiotics won’t be effective. Antibiotics are meant for and designed to treat bacterial infections. Your body’s immune system is designed to fight all forms of infection and can most often resolve these illnesses if we will just allow it to do its job. Are antibiotics necessary? Sometimes, yes. However, I would guess that our society utilizes antibiotics ten to twenty times more often than necessary. More often than not, if you’ll just exercise some healthy and smart lifestyle choices, your immune system will be up to the challenge of fighting whatever the world can throw at it.

Migraine Headache is a category that has many different forms and presentations. These are often severe and debilitating and have been attributed to a variety of causes. Ultimately, they develop because something is not working right. These can be related to blood pressure, brain chemical imbalance, exposure to toxins, and a ton of other triggers. The latest medical theories as to the pain associated with migraine refers to both nerve and vascular involvement. Either the nerves are triggering a reaction in the blood vessels, or the blood vessels are responding incorrectly to the signals the nerves are sending, or the brain is reacting improperly to the whole environment… whatever the underlying cause, it is a dysfunction of normal body processes. Nerve irritation or dysfunction alters the brain chemistry which leads to a chain reaction. The severe throbbing often associated with these headaches is thought to come from distention of the veins as chemicals cause the blood to bypass capillaries. Other nerves surrounding these distended veins begin an inflammatory process which also triggers pain signals. 70% of episodes are unilateral, and women are 3-4 times more likely to suffer with these than men.

Tension Headache is the most common form of headache. These also can present in a variety of ways, and can have a variety of causes. It is estimated that one in six people suffer from either episodic or chronic headache pain. Unfortunately, most medications used to treat these conditions have the potential to cause even more troubles. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), especially with repetitive use, have been associated with side effects ranging from stomach bleeding and ulcers to decreased kidney and liver function or failure. In fact, one of the most common side effects of these, and many other, medications is headaches! Medications may mask the pain, but rarely address the cause.

Research suggests that chiropractic is a very effective and natural answer to headaches. A major research study in 1995 compared several weeks of drug therapy to several weeks of chiropractic care. 82 percent of patients given drug therapy reported side effects including drowsiness, weight gain and dry mouth. Heart-related problems and glaucoma also were associated with the drug therapy. On the other hand, chiropractic patients reported no side effects. And after four weeks of treatment, patients who used drugs began having headaches again, while members of the chiropractic group continued to express headache relief, as well as higher levels of energy as compared to the drug therapy group.

In the past 15-20 years, more and more research is documenting the benefits of chiropractic care in headache treatment. Chiropractors are trained to thoroughly diagnose your complaints and are well-equipped to determine the probable underlying cause of your headache pain. Although rare, there are a few more serious causes of headache that your chiropractor can help rule out. After determining if yours is a chiropractic case, he can then help you plan an effective plan of attack that includes dietary/nutritional recommendations, stress relief techniques, ergonomic recommendations, chiropractic care, and sometimes acupuncture. Don’t delay. Contact your chiropractor and start treating the underlying cause of your headaches instead of just hiding the symptoms.


Posted in Headaches | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ginger… fantastic spice with many health benefits!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, May 29, 2009

Ginger is that deformed-potato-looking-thing in the produce aisle. It is actually the root of the ginger plant that you’re seeing. Historically, ginger has been used around the world for a wide variety of ailments. Interestingly enough, recent research is proving what nutritionists, herbologists, wisemen, and grandmas have known for centuries… food makes the best medicine!

Ginger has been shown to be an effective complement in treating so many conditions, I’ll only list the most common below:

  1. Motion Sickness
  2. Pregnancy-Related Nausea and Vomiting
  3. Chemotherapy Nausea
  4. Inflammation – great for arthritis!
  5. Migraine Headache Relief

Already used as a pain reliever for arthritis and migraines, and an effective remedy for nausea, ginger is ready to battle even more health foes. Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center believe ginger not only kills cancer cells, but also prevents them from becoming resilient to chemotherapy.

Scientists combined a solution of ginger powder and water with ovarian cancer cells; in every one of their tests, the cancer cells died from being in contact with the ginger. The cancer cells either committed “suicide” (apoptosis) or attacked themselves.

With the number of American women to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer close to 20,000 this year, a common root like ginger has found itself back in the scientific spotlight. Researchers are pushing for further studies of its attributes. Other advantages to the use of ginger are that it’s already available in a pill and there are hardly any reports of side effects.

Posted in General Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Do Medical Doctors and Chiropractic Doctors Get Along?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, August 15, 2008

Although relationships are changing, and I have personally experienced a large number of medical referrals, many of you are aware that MD’s and DC’s have not always seen eye to eye. Have you ever wondered why that is? The history of disagreement and animosity between the medical establishment and the chiropractic community is long and nasty. However, for most, it has become a Hatfield vs. McCoy scenario where the actual participants don’t really know why they’re supposed to hate each other!

Ultimately, the original battle began as… yup, a turf war. As with most conflicts throughout history, it all came down to ‘the almighty dollar.’ No one knows who threw the first punch, but the powers that be have been battling ever since. The emerging medical advancements and pharmaceutical industry of the early 20th century saw chiropractic as a competing faction. Advancements at that time were focused on new drugs and new surgeries… and along came chiropractic whose primary tenet was ‘treatment without drugs and without surgery.’ With diametrically opposed viewpoints, there was bound to be some fireworks.

Individual doctors argued mostly with each other based on their beliefs of what was right for the patient. As time went on, and our country went through the first world war, it became increasingly clear that there was an underlying conflict where doctors were vying for their piece of the health care dollar. Enter… the politicians. Charismatic representatives, and association heads, whose sole purpose was to increase the financial health of one faction at the expense of the other… regardless of patient outcomes. Now the money men were directing and guiding health care opinion.

It’s at this point that I think the chiropractic community started recognizing that the battle was not constructive, and that patient care was suffering because of it. It probably helped that they also realized there was no way they could fight the money that medicine and the pharmaceutical industry could throw at them.

The medical community wasn’t so quick to give up the battle. Instead of backing off, cooperating with, or joining with chiropractors, they chose to go on the offensive. They began a systematic attack on the chiropractic profession designed to ridicule and minimize the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. This history of attack and false advertisement culminated with the Wilkes case that settled in the Supreme Court in 1992. That case found the AMA guilty of conspiring against chiropractic under anti-trust laws. To this day, most consumers are unaware that the “idea” that chiropractors are quacks was purposefully, illegally, underhandedly, and cleverly crafted and promoted by the AMA.

A good article and detail of the history of the attack on chiropractic by the AMA is located here. Read through that article and learn why your medical doctor has been largely unaware of what chiropractic is and what it is capable of. Evidence of continuing attacks is evident even today. How many of us have heard of the dangers of stroke after chiropractic manipulation? Then ask yourself, how many have heard of the two studies ( here and here) that proved you are no more at risk to stroke after a chiropractic visit than you are after a medical visit?… or a visit to the beauty salon for that matter?!

7,600 people die each year just from the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and aspirin). 32,000 people die each year from adverse reactions to prescription medications. There is a one in 5,585,000 (that’s one for every five million five hundred eighty-five thousand) chance that you’ll have a negative cerebrovascular event after manipulation of the neck. In the past 113 years, there have been thirteen deaths related to manipulation of the neck. Only three… yes, that’s three, 1, 2, 3 have been related to manipulation of the neck by a chiropractor. Yet, the media and the medical industry would have you believe that chiropractic is “too dangerous.”

In short, do medical doctors and chiropractic doctors get along? Yes! I have developed a strong working relationship with many of the local medical doctors, and they refer patients to me regularly. Those doctors who have put politics and money aside, and have chosen instead to focus on the benefits to the patient, have begun to cooperate effectively. Now, you can find medical doctors and chiropractic doctors sharing the same office and working together to give the patient the best possible results with the least cost, time, and side effects.

Yes, individual medical doctors and chiropractic doctors are cooperating for the benefit of the patient. However, the major organizations (including the AMA, the pharmaceutical industry, and some chiropractic organizations) are still loyal to their members, and are focused solely on the financial security of those members. If you experience a chiropractic doctor, or a medical doctor, who is opposed to communicating or cooperating with your other health care professionals, ask yourself what their motivation is for making that decision. If you read a story that gives a negative report about, or raises questions about, either industry, please take the time to find out who wrote the piece and what their motivation was (or who paid them) to write the piece.

Posted in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Herniated/"Slipped" Discs, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Nutrition, Other Pain Conditions, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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