During the discussion and examination of a patient the chiropractor will find out how severe the headache feels, what type of pain it is (sharp, dull, throbbing, shooting, deep ache, burning, etc) and how long a headache will last. The time of the day, week or month that a headache comes on can also help in determining the best way to treat it.
Hormone changes during the usual monthly cycle can be a headache trigger, as can certain processed food containing nitrates and certain preservatives. Alcohol and caffeine may help some headaches, yet make others feel worse. Dehydration is another cause to look out for.
A detailed headache diary can assist in finding some of these aggravating factors.
Stress is often linked to headaches, and a detailed review of recent stresses can help find causes there. A “schedule of recent experience” stress checklist is a good place to start to identify life event changes that could be significant.
Knowing when to refer for other tests or treatments
If a trial of treatment makes no improvement or if other problems outside the scope of practice of a chiropractor are discovered, a patient is referred. Usually the patient’s medical practitioner is the next point/port of call with a note from the chiropractor outlining what has been done and what may be needed to be done next.
The chiropractor usually stays in touch to follow progress and provide further treatment and advice, if appropriate.
Chiropractors often co-manage with allied health practitioners such as dentists, optometrists, and physiotherapists as well as naturopaths and acupuncturists to get to the bottom of some complicated headache cases.