“Headache” refers to pain in the skull area, and it has a host of sources and symptoms. Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is not working properly. At Rock Creek Spine and Rehabilitation, we are here to help you discover the source of your headache and the best ways to alleviate pain.
There are hundreds of different kinds of headaches, and they are separated into two umbrella categories. Secondary headaches are symptoms of another underlying condition, such as injury to the head or diseased blood vessels. Primary headaches, in which the headache is the medical problem, are generally grouped into a few categories.
Tension headaches are the most common variety, affecting 75% of adults and teens. The ache is manifested as either a bilateral (both sides of the head) dull pain or a squeezing, vice-like pain all around the head at the temples. The ache is mild to moderate and does not usually throb. They can last for several hours to several days and are not usually accompanied by other symptoms. They can be chronic or episodic. Tension headaches are considered chronic when the headaches present themselves more days in a month than not for at least three months.
Migraines are not well understood even though they are very common, afflicting more women than men. They also tend to be hereditary and recurrent. The symptoms are varied, so they can be confused with sinus or tension headaches. Migraines are often preceded by auras, in which patients experience tunnel vision or see flashing lights, halos or black spots, or wavy lines before the pain hits. Pain, which sits around the eye, can last 4-72 hours. Migraines can cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to stimuli. Tingling in the face or mood changes may precede a spell.
After a sinus infection causes the sinuses to become inflamed, sinus headaches may follow. They are felt in the front of the face, in the forehead, near the eyes and cheekbones, and even in the teeth, and they are made worse by bending over. They can cause congestion, mucus discharge, or fever. These headaches are not usually recurrent or chronic.
Also called medication overuse headaches (MOH), rebound headaches arise as part of a vicious cycle: the person suffering from headaches takes medication, and that medication, in turn, causes greater pain.
Cluster headaches, while the least common, is severe. They occur on one side of the head behind the eye and manifest as a burning or stabbing sensation which can either throb or remain consistent. Nausea and light sensitivity often accompany the pain. Clustering means up to eight headaches a day during “cluster periods” which last for weeks or months. These cluster periods recur each year around the same time, often in the spring or fall. Attacks come on suddenly and can last for an hour.
Each type of headache is governed by different stimuli, but there are some common culprits: lack of sleep, injuries to the head, spinal injuries or poor posture, exertion, and illness. Stress and other emotional concerns like depression, anxiety, and insomnia can also lead to headaches, as can changes in weather, dehydration, or experiencing extreme heat or cold. Environmental stimuli, such as flashing or bright lights or loud sounds, and dietary factors, like low blood sugar, high alcohol levels, and changes in caffeine consumption have been known to cause headaches as well.
There is no need to simply bear headache pain. While not every treatment is right for every kind of headache, there are tools to help you experience relief.
Chiropractic. Your chiropractor will have a thorough discussion with you about the symptoms and severity of your headache, pain-inciting factors like diet and habits, and how often your headaches occur. You may be asked to keep a record of probable causes and environmental factors if you experience headaches frequently. Chiropractors work with other healthcare providers, taking x-rays and other scans and tests into account when developing the best treatment plan for you.
Exercise. Exercise can help loosen muscles and the tension that leads to headaches.
Rest and relaxation. Proper rest can serve as a preventative for headaches.
Massage therapy. Massage treatments are especially helpful for tension headaches
Nutritional counseling. Proper nutrition can provide your body with the resources it needs to remain healthy.
Contact Rock Creek Spine & Rehabilitation Center in Broomfield, Colorado to schedule an appointment with our multi-award winning Chiropractors!