Experiencing chronic headaches? Don’t suffer in silence like I did!

As a previous chronic headache (and migraine) sufferer myself, I know the pain and the drain all too well. I remember as early as a teenager going to school as any normal kid and then slowly as the day progressed sure enough, I would develop a throbbing headache that would make me want to bury my head in my desk until the end of the day. I experienced headaches daily for years and most days I had multiple headaches. I tried my best to tough it out, only take pain meds when I absolutely needed. I would try sleeping it off, which sometimes worked, but most of the time I would just wake up in the same miserable state.
When I look back, I actually convinced myself that this was normal! My rational (as a teenager who knew nothing) was that I’m a busy student! I was taking a heavy course load, studying all the time, and working a part-time job after school. Who wouldn’t have a headache? Wow, how delusional was I?
The fact is, headaches although common are NOT normal. Chronic headaches are also not normal. Just because we experience pain, dismiss it and become accustomed or complacent to it does not mean that it’s fine and all is good. I wish I could go back and talk to my teenage self and tell me that what I was experiencing was not normal and there are actual treatment options for headaches. Rather than thinking the only option I had was pain meds. I think that the worst thing that I had done … or didn’t do is talk about it! Sometimes we think that talking about pain is complaining or a sign of weakness. Did you know that pain is just a signal from your body telling you that something is not right and should be looked after? If our body speaks to us through pain, then why are we ignoring it? Why do we feel the need to silence our symptoms and our voice?
Even talking about pain can be therapeutic and help take the burden off your shoulders. Sometimes we internalize our stress and it impacts our body in the form of tension, tight and achy muscles, and tension headaches. Does this sound familiar for some of you? If you’re in pain, acknowledge it, speak to someone.
My headache free journey began with a simple question from a chiropractor that I was working for as a receptionist at the time. He simply looked over at me one day and said, “You must get a lot of headaches”. I was so grateful that he had identified my situation and educated me about treatment options and provided me with the care that I needed to be functional again and focus on my goals at the time; which was being able to get though my days without suffering and to feel normal again. Sounds pretty basic right?
If you’re in pain or not feeling well, see a medical professional, no pain is too small! The best time to see a professional is as soon as you experience symptoms. The best outcomes are early in care. Chronic conditions; even if the pain is low grade, can take longer to resolve. As we age, so do our muscles and joints and this can affect our prognosis for pain syndromes.
As I chiropractor, I see many patients like my teenage self who think that their pain is normal and there’s not much that can be done. And just like I was, they’re amazed that effective treatment options exist for them. I find the most common statement people make is that their pain is ok for now because it does not affect their ability to function. There seems to be some kind of rationale we make that we shouldn’t seek treatment for pain if we are not disabled by it. But, by that time, the condition has progressed so far that a more time and care is required to treat the condition. The most important tool I have as a practitioner I think is being able to educate my patient. The more we understand our bodies and conditions we experience, the more we have the power to keep our bodies equipped with the tools it needs to keep it healthy and functional.
If you experience headaches and have not had treatment, talk to your medical professional. I’m glad I did!

By: Dr. Lisa Ramsackal