By Dr. Erin Elster D.C.
Like adults, children can develop different types of headaches, including migraine, cluster, and tension. In fact, approximately 10 percent of school-age children suffer from chronic headaches. Furthermore, in a study examining adult migraine patients, it was discovered that half experienced their first migraine attack before the age of 12. Given the propensity for pediatric headaches to continue into adulthood, it is advantageous for children to receive effective headache treatment to prevent lifelong symptoms.
According to medical research, headache is a brain disorder that is frequently linked to head and/or neck trauma. It is thought that trauma to the upper neck (C1 and C2 vertebrae) alters nerve and blood flow in the brainstem, leading to headaches.
A new treatment focusing upon cervical (neck) injuries, known as Upper Cervical Chiropractic care, shows promise for children with chronic headaches. Upper Cervical Chiropractic care works by correcting trauma-induced misalignments of the upper cervical vertebrae, thereby restoring normal brainstem function.
In children, a common cause of upper cervical misalignment is birth trauma, especially during precipitous delivery, prematurity, breech delivery, and forceful traction or forceps births. As children grow older, the inevitable tumbles and falls of childhood increase the risk of cervical injury. Injuries can also occur through falls or blows to the head during sports such as gymnastics, soccer, skateboarding, surfing or football, to name a few. Following trauma, headache symptoms can be triggered immediately, or they can take weeks or months to develop.
To determine whether a child may benefit from upper cervical treatment, two diagnostic tests of the cervical spine - thermal imaging and digital X-ray - are performed. After determining a diagnosis of cervical injury, each patient's injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially-designed knee chest table.
Many children notice improvement in headache symptoms with just a few treatments.
Headache is a debilitating disorder that affects the quality of life of millions of children. The relationship between head trauma, headache onset and upper cervical treatment provides hope for these patients.
Dr. Erin Elster is an Upper Cervical Chiropractor who has successfully treated over 250 patients with chronic headaches. Her published headache research is available on her website: www.erinelster.com. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.