Hello everyone. This is Liz Harvey coming to you from our studios in New York City where we are dedicated to bringing you top quality advice from many of the leading expert professionals across the U.S. In today’s episode we are speaking with chiropractor, Dr. Dennis James of Performance Chiropractic Clinic located in Keller, Texas. Dr. James is a nationally recognized chiropractor and a member of both the American and Texas Chiropractic Association. He is also a Fellow of the Acupuncture Society of America. Dr. James specializes in family chiropractic care, treating infants to seniors.
Today we’re going to talk about a very important topic:
Headaches Should Not Be A Normal Way of Life
RC: Hi, Dr. James. How are you today?
Dr. Dennis James: I’m great, Liz. Thank you.
RC: Thanks for joining me.
Can you describe the different types of headaches and the symptoms of each?
Dr. Dennis James: Absolutely. One thing that I really want to address, Liz, is the fact that there are different types of headaches, but one type that doesn’t exist is a normal headache. There are many times that I sit down with patients in a consultation and we’re correlating all of the different effects that they may be experiencing, the different symptoms that they may be having, and as I sit down and I ask so that I can determine what the cause is, I’ll say, “Hey, how is this? Uh, is this related and is it causing any headaches for you?” People will respond with, “Well, just a normal headache.” It’s something that has always resonated and bothered me a little bit because if somebody believes that they have a normal headache then they believe that they don’t actually think that they can do something to create a better life for themselves.
What I’m hoping to do is bring clarity to everybody that they can choose to make sure that we can get rid of the dysfunction, whatever is causing the headaches itself so that we can create health for them down the road. Depending on what portion of the neurological system is affected, there are many different headaches you can get. I would say the most common headaches that we get and see are going to be tension headaches. As most people know, those are headaches on the back of the neck. They can come down to the shoulders or up to the base of the skull and can even come around to the front side. You have sinus headaches which is often accompanied with sinus congestion, pain and pressure behind the nose and the eyebrow.
Chiropractic gets wonderful results with migraines, per se. It can happen on one side. It can be the whole head. You can get auras and nausea and vomiting and these are extremely painful. They can even last longer, sometimes three to four hours every time you get them up to three or four days in significant cases. Another significant type of headache would be cluster headaches, which, Liz, these are just debilitating. They can happen just numerous at a time. They tend to be one-sided. You get watery eyes. It’s very, very painful to the patient. The last one that I also want people to understand, especially people that think you can have a normal headache, is going to be rebound headaches because rebound headaches occur from overuse of painkillers. So many people tend to think that the way to get rid of a headache is to pop an aspirin or an Advil, and now you’re going to have residual effects down the road, as well.
Why is it bad to rely on pain medication to try to relieve headache pain?
Dr. Dennis James: Wow. That’s exactly because pain medications, Liz, are used to basically block the pain and get you through your day. It actually blocks the neural impulses that go through there so that you can have some relief but they never actually fix a problem and they never actually create health. The way I look at it and try to explain it to patients is this way. You cannot ever have a negative create a positive. Only positive creates positive. We take a look at it and we say, “Hey, I have a normal headache.” That means that you think you have something that can’t get better, so that’s a negative response, but if we’re able to go find where the dysfunction is and create a positive result with that dysfunction to create a positive function, we can actually see pain go away because the function is restored.
On the flip side, when we’re dealing with those pain medications, if we take a pain medication, the common thing I like to ask patients is this. “If you are perfectly healthy and you take an Advil or you take an aspirin or some other painkiller, are you going to be healthier after you take that or before?” The common answer that I get is that, “Well, you’re going to be healthier before.” My response when I follow up with that is, “Well, why do we think then if we have a headache and we take a pain medication that we can actually get to complete health, because a negative cannot create a positive.”
What happens is even if we start with Advil or we start with aspirin, you’re just covering up the symptoms down the road. Even though it’s important at times because you’ve got to be able to get through the day, if we don’t actually ever take a positive direct approach to restoring the function, it’s going to build up down the road and it becomes a very cyclical effect down the road to where you end up not having a quality of life, and that’s what we’re most concerned with.
What chiropractic methods and techniques do you use to treat headaches?
Dr. Dennis James: In our office, I have one very simple thought process when a patient walks in the door. That’s going to be, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the patient well.” There’s many different chiropractic techniques, and we’re trained to in the majority of them, but with that being said, we are specializing and trained in a very specific technique, a very light force technique, a very gentle technique that doesn’t require any twisting and turning. Patients either lay on their belly or you can even sit up and treat it. It’s very, very good for pediatrics, infants, up to geriatric because we treat a lot of families and different generations in our office. Whatever it is, we just want to restore that neurological function, but that would be the most common thing that we do in our office.
Can acupuncture help alleviate headaches?
Dr. Dennis James: Absolutely. Acupuncture actually gets a misnomer because acupuncture is actually under the subheading of Meridian Therapy. The point of acupuncture and Meridian Therapy is to actually balance out the energy flow within the body because somewhere it’s not balanced, which means that you have a ‘dis-ease’ and there isn’t harmony within the body. If we create ease, we can get rid of the ‘dis-ease’, so to speak, and create harmony so that the body actually creates health, not just treating a symptom. When it comes to acupuncture, you can do needle, which is going to be long needle insertion, short needle insertion, but you can also do things that are not needle – Moxibustion, Taishan acupressure.
Liz, in our office, the most common thing that we do for headaches is acupressure because it is so effective, it is so comfortable for the patient, and the vast majority of the time, especially with headaches, they walk out of the door already feeling better, so it’s a very good technique to use.
Lastly, what are some ways people can try to prevent getting headaches?
Dr. Dennis James: I think most importantly you have to look at your lifestyle, especially in this day of age, I really believe that posture is a complete epidemic. The number of people sitting at computers every single day, how much time we spend on our iPhones and iPads and computers and playing games, especially our children and how they’re being brought up. It’s a concern because the best analogy I can give you is taking a bowling ball, which if you take 8-10 pounds is going to be about the same weight as your head, and you hold that up next to your head, as that moves forward, but your elbows stay still, the stress that goes on your forearm to hold up that bowling ball becomes exponentially more for every inch that it starts to move forward.
The same thing is happening with our neck and head. As we’re leaning forward, as we’re not having the proper posture and we’re doing that for 8, 10 hours every day, the strain on those posterior elements, the muscles and ligaments on the back of the neck becomes huge, and that is what leads to what so many people call normal headaches, but they’re tension headaches because of the amount of strain on there, but you can also take an aspect from decrease in inflammation through your diet, which can be done. You want to make sure that we limit the toxins that are coming in, so decreasing pain killers, decreasing the amount of alcohol that we put in our body.
We want to make sure that we are completely hydrated, getting enough water, which most people are under-hydrated. We want to make sure that we’re getting adequate sleep and that our nervous system is balanced to where we drop into that REM sleep and our body is actually regenerating, and then lastly, Liz, what I think is probably the most important is your morning routine because wherever your mind is is typically going to be what you pull through you, and when you see all these things going around you, it’s tough to overcome it. Waking up and being able to renew your mind daily on what it is that you want, on where it is that you want to go with a vision of what you want to accomplish, that’s the most important thing is that your actions can follow through the day and actually create health as you move forward.
RC: Thank you so much, Dr. James. We know your extremely busy, so I just want to thank you for your time and help today.
Dr. Dennis James: Thanks, Liz. I appreciate you having me on.
RC: And for our listeners across the country, if you are interested in speaking with the doctor, please visit www.performancechiropractic.clinic or call 817-337-3636 to schedule an appointment. On behalf of our team, we want to thank you for listening and we look forward to bringing you more top-quality content from our country’s leading experts.