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Headaches and Applied Kinesiology

About 7 million adults in the United States have a headache at least every other day. About 5.8% of women and 2.8% of men suffer from frequent headache. . Migraine headaches plague an estimated 6 percent of men and 18 percent of women in the United States. A recent University of Michiganstudy pegged Bank One's annual loss due to migraines at more than $20 million.

According to a recent survey of nearly 700 children and adolescents, more than 20 percent were found to be overusing over-the-counter pain medications to relieve headaches. Frequently parents weren’t aware their kids were using pain relievers. Of the children participating in the survey, 41% had migraines, 28% experienced tension headaches.

Headaches are a very common problem. Medicine offers a variety of drugs to address this problem. Drugs however, do not address the cause of the headache, they merely offer symptomatic relief.   

Complications from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- a group that includes prescription and non-prescription pain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen -- are responsible for 16,500 deaths each year, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The chiropractor trained in appliedkinesiology is concerned with finding and correcting the cause of headaches. An applied kinesiologist will examine the body’s structure, the nervous system, digestive system, nutritional status, and other organs and systems of the body to discover the cause of the headache.


Migraine Headaches


People commonly refer to a severe headache as a migraine. Although migraines are frequently severe, not all severe headaches are migraines. A true migraine is caused by a disturbance of normal blood circulation to the brain. Very often there is a prodrome—a symptom that appears before the headache. For example, the individual may feel nauseous or see a halo and know that a headache is coming.

Migraines very often respond to natural health care with chiropractic and applied kinesiology. Treating the source of nerve irritation and various nerve reflexes is an effective strategy for offering relief to a person suffering from migraines.


Toxic Headache


Headaches can be caused by exposure to chemicals in the environment. This includes things like car exhaust, cleaning agents, pesticides, smoke or perfume. When the headache is caused by an outside irritant, the patient usually knows the source of the problem. Some patients are extremely sensitive to chemicals.

Sometimes the toxins come from inside the body. Poor digestion, for example, can lead to an imbalance in bowel flora and an accumulation of toxins in the GI tract. Food that is not properly digested can literally rot, creating a variety of toxic substances. This toxic burden on the body can lead to headaches as well as other symptoms. If other organs of elimination like the liver or kidneys are not working properly, a toxic state can develop.

A chiropractor using applied kinesiology works with the nervous system and various reflexes to improve the function of organs involved with elimination and handling of wastes. Treatment will often improve the patient’s tolerance of these chemicals. Nutritional support is also very useful for improving the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. 



An allergy is an immune response to an innocuous substance. Allergies can be a cause of headaches. One of the ways allergies can cause a headache is by causing the brain to actually swell, much the same way that the sinuses and eyes swell in the hay fever sufferer or the bronchia swell in the asthmatic.

Unlike more traditional approaches to allergies that focus on symptoms, the applied kinesiologistworks on the cause of the problem. In many cases, body function can be improved so that reactions to allergens do not occur.


Suboccipital Neuralgia


This is just a fancy word for tension headache. This is due to muscle spasm and subluxationirritating the suboccipital nerves arising from the spine just below the base of the skull. Although it is called a tension headache, the cause is really from abnormal function of the structures in this area. Balancing the muscles and vertebrae in this area usually provides relief from tension headaches.


Visual Headache


Poor visual acuity can lead to eye strain and headaches. Of course a proper examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist and prescription eye glasses may be necessary.

Certain types of visual acuity problems may be functional in nature and can be corrected by applied kinesiology examination and treatment. This functional problem can be brought about by problems with cranial motion. The skull is not a single bone; it is actually more than 20 bones joined together by sutures (sutures look like wavy lines on the skull). The sutures are actually joints and allow a small amount of movement which is associated with the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain. If this movement is out of balance, it can lead to problems with vision and headache, as well as other symptoms. The chiropractor trained in applied kinesiologycan assess and treat this problem.


Sinus Headache


Sinuses are air pockets within the skull. They are located around the nose and eyes. Each sinus is connected to the nasal passage by a small duct which allows mucus drainage and air exchange. These ducts are called ostea and each is about the size of a pencil lead.

            Often a cold will plug up the ostea, preventing the sinuses from draining properly. The moist, warm, mucus-packed sinus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. To the  patient, it seems to be a cold that just doesn’t go away. Chronic sinusitis produces pressure between the eyes, on the sides of the nose, or in the front of the forehead. There is a stuffy feeling, and the victim frequently has headaches. Sometimes the problem is caused by allergies.

            Smoking, air pollution and environmental allergies can irritate the ostea and create the conditions for chronic sinusitis. Indoor air pollution can be much worse than outdoor air pollution (especially during the winter). While drugs can sometimes help with symptoms, it is best to find the exact cause of the problem and correct it.



            Of course a headache can be a sign of something serious. Tumors, diseases of the nervous system, infections like meningitis, aneurysms or other serious health problem can all cause headaches. It is important to get a proper diagnosis. Fortunately most individuals suffering from headaches do not have one of these serious health problems.