Headaches of all kinds are extremely common and can be frustrating. In Canada, about 17% of the population suffer from migraines and another 30% report having tension headaches. At BodaHealth, we see many headache patients. We understand that headaches and migraines have a wide range of underlying causes and triggers. We also know that your headache episode can be dull and achy, excruciating or somewhere in between and that your headache can last from minutes to days.
Headaches and migraines can be triggered by stress, hormonal fluctuations, genetics, environmental toxins, certain foods, neurological issues, and temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ or TMD). With such a wide range of causes and symptoms, it’s no surprise that the effectiveness of headache treatments is also inconsistent.
Many people believe that migraines are just really bad headaches, but in reality, migraines are a neurological event, in which the headache is one symptom. Migraines tend to move through stages, from a hyper-sensory aura, to head pain, to resolution in which the headache is gone, but you may feel fatigued and worn out. Some people have migraines without the neurological warning of an aura. In general, migraines tend to be severe and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours.
In contrast to the neurological origins of a migraine, tension headaches tend to be muscular in nature. Tension headaches are the most common kind, affecting about 75 percent of all people who have headaches. They’re often triggered by stress and strong emotions and are caused by muscle tightness in the neck, shoulders, jaw, and head. Tension headaches can be chronic and stubborn.
Cluster headaches are named for their pattern of occurring in clusters. They may show up out of nowhere, occur for days, weeks, or months, and disappear just as unpredictably. Cluster headaches tend to be severe, one-sided, and may cause eye tearing or a runny nose on the affected side. Fortunately, this type of headache tends to last only a few hours, because the pain can be so severe that sufferers are often unable to get comfortable in any position.
TMJ problems can also produce headaches. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located right in front of your ear. It creates the hinge that allows your lower jaw to open and close when you eat or talk. Sometimes the joint can become inflamed through injury, tooth grinding, or misalignment. This can cause the muscles in your jaw, head, and neck to become tight, triggering a headache. TMJ problems may also cause achy teeth, clicking noises, and facial pain.
Treating Headaches and Migraines with Cold Laser Therapy
At BodaHealth we recognize that there’s no one size fits all method to treat headaches, and we’re always looking for ways to treat more patients effectively. As a result, we are pleased to offer our patients cold laser therapy for headaches, migraines, and TMJ problems.
Cold laser therapy is a treatment that uses red and infrared light that’s produced by light-emitting diodes (LED’s) and low level lasers (LLLT). Cold lasers are gentle and non-invasive. Because they emit a low level of light, they don’t cut or burn tissue in the way that high-powered surgical lasers do. Instead, cold lasers emit light particles, called photons, which penetrate deep into your body’s tissues. These photons are absorbed by the mitochondria (the energy centre) of your cells, which cause a number of positive physiological reactions deep at the cellular level.
Researchers have discovered that cold laser therapy has been effective in treating migraines, TMJ disorders, cluster headaches, tension headaches, and sinus headaches. In one study, the positive effects of pain relief on migraine patients were still measurable six months after treatments.
Scientists believe that cold laser therapy works in the treatment of headaches in a number of ways:
- It increases circulation by enhancing the function of the tiny blood vessels in the treated area. This increases the circulation of oxygen and nutrients necessary for healing in the affected tissue.
- Cold laser therapy helps inflammation complete its healing process, which can help in TMJ problems and sinus headaches.
- It increases the levels of serotonin circulating in your blood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and decreases depression and anxiety.
- Cold laser treatment increases the release of your body’s own opioids, which work to relieve pain.
- Cold laser therapy also affects the enzymes needed for optimal function of your nervous system.
At BodaHealth, a treatment plan involving cold laser therapy will depend on the nature of your headaches and your health history. In general, for chronic headache conditions, 10 to 20 treatments may be recommended. For more acute issues, 5 to 10 treatments may be effective. Sessions last about 15 to 30 minutes and are recommended one to three times a week.
If you suffer from migraines, headaches, or TMJ problems, cold laser therapy may be the answer you’ve been looking for. It helps to reduce pain, decreases your need for pain medications and increases your ability to function—to do the things you want to do. Cold laser therapy is safe, gentle, effective and addresses the problem deep within your body. To find out more about treating your headaches with cold laser therapy, contact us at BodaHealth today.