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The ache in headache does not come from your brain-your brain cannot feel pain. During brain surgery a patient is often wide-awake feeling nothing, even talking to the surgeons and nurses while his/her brain is being operated on (a local anesthetic numbs the scalp). So what puts the "ache" in headache? It's the non-brain structures: blood vessels, membranes and cranial nerves in the brain and skull. When these structures are stretched, compressed, irritated, inflamed or infected, headaches often result.

Why do millions of headache sufferers turn to the natural, drug-free chiropractic approach to health? That's because chiropractic has a unique healing approach. Chiropractors are the only health professionals trained to analyze your body for a serious and often ignored condition that can damage your nerves, cause tissue inflammation, cause muscles to tighten and knot, weaken your body, cause fatigue and set the stage for sickness and disease. This condition is called the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). Just as you may have a cavity in your tooth and be unaware of the damage it's causing, so the VSC (or subluxation) may be causing serious harm to your body-sometimes for years-without your knowledge. What exactly is a VSC? It is a tiny distortion or misalignment in your spine that stresses your nervous system, the system that controls your body. What causes the VSC? Any physical or emotional stress that your body cannot withstand can cause your spine to develop a VSC.

Palmer's "displaced vertebrae…(causing) a pressure on nerves" is now called the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC or subluxation). The VSC is technically an abstraction, like the electron, gravity or the gene. It is a term used to describe the phenomenon by which chiropractors get such good results. Most definitions of the VSC say it consists of a spinal bone out of place interfering with brain/nerve function. The VSC causes body malfunction, (dis-ease) which can lead to lowered resistance to disease, pain, imbalance and fatigue and can pave the way for ill health. It is sometimes called the "silent killer" because it can slowly eat away at your health and vitality for years without your having the slightest awareness of it.

Using his/her hands, X-ray and other instruments, your chiropractor will determine if you have a VSC. If you do, your chiropractor will give you a safe, gentle spinal adjustment to correct the vertebral subluxation complex, removing the nerve pressure and spinal distortions.

Why has chiropractic been a blessing to millions of headache sufferers? The reason may be that most headache sufferers appear to have a VSC. For example, one study of 6,000 long-term headache sufferers (two to 25 years) revealed that neck injury (whiplash, falls) was the most important factor in the cause of the headache and should be suspected in every nonspecific case of headache. And subluxation correction has powerful effects. In a randomized controlled trial performed at the University of Odense, Denmark, those under chiropractic care decreased their use of painkillers by 36% and the number of headache hours per day decreased by 69%. Headaches affect children too. For example, a 10-year-old girl with chronic, severe migraine (6 times a week for the past 3 years) was unable to go to school due to the severity of her condition. Neurologists could not help her. A chiropractic examination revealed a VSC in her upper neck. After her third adjustment she was off her pain medications and by the third week she was back in school, started dance classes for the first time in 2 years "and actually began to smile again. She was leading a normal and healthy life for a child her age by the end of the 5th visit."
A 13-year-old boy who was hurt in a football game was in terrible pain and had to wear dark glasses and earplugs to compensate for increased sensitivity to sound and light. Medical doctors had given the child painkillers and had him hospitalized in traction for two weeks with no improvement. After his first chiropractic adjustment he could ride home without wearing his sunglasses and for the first time in two weeks expressed an interest in food. In another study patients who received only chiropractic care showed significant improvement, on a par with those given a powerful prescription drug (though without the side effects). The headache index from a diary kept by each patient, showed chiropractic to have reduced the severity and frequency of headaches as well or better than the combined therapy or the drug alone (with none of the side effects). These studies and clinical reports are just a few examples of the many cases of headache that respond well to chiropractic and spinal care.

For many years it has been said that the DC after a Doctor of Chiropractic's name also stands for "Doctor of Cause"-chiropractors correct the cause of a patient's health problems, rather than give painkillers and other drugs, which only treat the symptoms. A team of surgeons may have found one of the answers as to why chiropractic works so well. They discovered a small neck muscle that connects to brain membranes. When the neck is out of alignment, this muscle can actually pull on the brain! As the lead surgeon writes: "An increasing body of literature relates headaches to pathology affecting the cervical spine and a number of clinical trials have demonstrated that chiropractic…is valuable for managing headache."

Anyone suffering from headaches (or any other condition) should make sure their spine is free from the vertebral subluxation complex-for the health of their whole body, not just certain parts.

Koren Publications Inc © 2008 Tedd Koren, D.C. All rights reserved   Koren Publications Inc.