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Kids & Headaches

My Head Hurts …

Although the pediatric chiropractic practice is often sought for most childhood conditions (e.g. otitis media – middle ear infection, asthma, colic, enuresis/ bedwetting, etc.), headaches are more common than most doctors realize.

When a child has a headache, it is not uncommon for a parent to seek medical attention to rule out a brain tumor or other serious problems. Once the child has been examined and a serious disorder has been ruled out, the child starts down the path of learning “to live with it.” The parent will often administer over the counter medication, or opt for other medically managed pharmacology.

One Swedish study of 9,000 children discovered that over 70% had experienced headaches by the age of 15.1 Smith reports (from a 1988 survey) the frequency of severe headaches in those under the age of 18 to be 25.3 per 1000 population, 9.9 per 1000 for children under the age of 10, and 45.8 per 1000 for those from ages 10-17.2

An Australian study of 900 children ages 10-18 reported that only 36.8% had never experienced a headache.3 This study revealed that 33.7% of the youths experienced headaches every 2-3 weeks or once a month; 24.8% every few days or once a week; and 4.6% experienced a headache almost all the time. Girls were more likely to have headaches with a higher frequency (once a week).

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Sillampaa and Anttila in 1966, reported the increasing prevalence of headache in 7 year old school children.4 The study reported the occurrence of headaches during a 6 month period increased from 45.4% in 1974 to 51.5% in 1992. Migraines increased during that time from 1.9% to 5.7%.4

Chiropractic Care for Headaches

     Management of headaches by adjustments has been well documented. In the Journal of Chiropractic Pediatrics, Anderson-Peacock described 5 cases which responded well to chiropractic care. Secondary problems (e.g. back and/or extremity pain, sinus, GI tract irritation) were also mentioned as part of the patient’s profile.6

Lewit studied a group of 30 children with nonmigrainous headaches. He stated that 28 of the children had “excellent” results from manipulation. In another group of 27 children who suffered from migraine headaches, 24 had “excellent” results.7

One excellent tool for understanding headaches is to keep a journal of occurrences. A morning headache may be the result of a stomach sleeper placing their cervical spine in constant rotation or sinus issues. A weekend headache may be the result of sleeping in and delaying the routine of bowel or bladder elimination, thus creating toxins in the system. A prelunch or after school headache may be a sign of glycemia.

The use of backpacks may cause a repetitive stress syndrome in the cervical and upper thoracic spine. One should also rule out visual problems and the possible need for glasses. The influence of food or chemical products in the diet of the child, such as NutraSweet, sulfates, sulfites (in hotdogs and lunch meats), caffeine and chocolate may be potential triggers for a headache. For young girls and teens, the onset of the menstrual cycle may be the start of a future of migraine headaches.

References:

1. Hewitt EG. Chiropractic care of a 13 year old with headache and neck pain: a case study. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association September 1994;38(3):160-62

2. Smith MS. Comprehensive evaluation and treatment of recurrent pediatric headache. Pediatric Annals September 1995;24(9):450

3. King NJ, Sharpley CF. Headache activity in children and adolescents. J. Paedtr Child Health 1990;26:50-4

4. Sillampaa M, Anttila P. Increasing prevalence of headache in 7 year old schoolchildren. Headache 1996;36:466-70

5. Linet MS, Stewart WF, et al. An epidemiologic study of headache among adolescents and young adults. JAMA 1989;261(15):222211-6

6. Anderson-Peacock ES. Chiropractic care of children with headaches: five case reports. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1996;1(1):18-27

7. Lewit K. Manipulative Therapy in Rehabilitation of the Locomotor System, 2nd ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd. 1991, p. 20

*For additional information relative to chiropractic care & children, go to http://icpa4kids.org/.


Matheson Chiropractic & Wellness Centre | (519) 332-8133