What are Headaches?

There are many different types of headaches. It’s important to understand the differences so you know what to do and who to seek care from. The most common type of headache is a tension type headache. These headaches generally come from the upper traps or neck and other particular muscles of those areas which refer from the top part of your neck over the top of your head and into eyebrows. This can be one side or both sides.

There are many types and classifications of headache. The first one we will discuss is cervicogenic headache. These are the headaches where the headache itself is only the compensation for a disorder within the neck or the muscles of the neck. Most people with cervicogenic headaches that come from their neck are female and aged around 40.

How the headache works – these headaches are from referred pain from the neck. There are receptors in your neck that receive input about pain and can refer that pain to other areas through nerves. There are more complicated reasons why pain refers from your neck up into the head, these reasons are due to brain and spinal nerve roots that are quite complicated. However overall the result is a headache and usually muscular tension. In some cases changes to your balance and dizziness can occur.

Other causes of headaches that can be more severe need to be investigated especially in the case of chronic pain that is not responding to traditional care. Arthritis, lupus, abnormalities to the other part of the neck, inflammation and space occupying lesions or tumours can cause these kind of headaches in rare cases. While these cases are rare, it is important that a healthcare professional assess you, to tell you if your headaches are coming from muscles or a more severe cause. A lot of people with headaches have some kind of history of trauma like a whiplash, a fall or even a concussion. These headaches always begin in the neck or underneath your skull at the back and can radiate usually only on one side to your face the front of your forehead or the side of your head and refer into your shoulder for arm.

Generally, people describe cervicogenic headaches as a nagging dull ache of moderate intensity. The headaches are constant and can feel squeezing and nagging. Most people experience these headaches daily and the pain fluctuates, which means that people can usually deal with the pain and painkillers can be quite effective. Certain neck movements and neck positions lengthen muscles and joints in a way that irritate pathways that turn your neck pain into a headache. People often say that heat or cold compress on the neck helps their headache. An easy way to tell if your headache is a cervicogenic headache or a migraine is whether or not your headache can be induced with neck movement.

When you see someone who suffers from a cervicogenic headache they are often fatigued as the pain has tired them out. They may have an abnormal neck position and look down when they walk. Their joints often feel stiff or stuck in the muscles are tender on the back of their neck or upper traps. Our Chiropractors are trained to assess the muscles and the range of motion to tell you if your headaches are coming from your neck. There is no diagnostic imaging required for people who have cervicogenic headaches.

Our Chiropractors are trained in spinal manipulative therapy, which is the number one way to help with these kind of headaches. It is also important to note that your middle back needs to be mobile in order for your neck to reach full range of motion. Muscular massage techniques are also effective coping strategy for these kind of headaches. Get headaches chiropractic treatment only at innate connection.

In the short-term while your headache is being managed, the Chiropractor will often have patients use ice, ultrasound therapy or even a TENS units to help reduce pain. Once the pain is under control the Chiropractor can give exercises which help reduce the likelihood of pain occurring in the future. Exercises such as elongation or decompression of the neck, chin tucking or neck stretches are the main way to help people to help themselves. A posture pole is a fantastic way to correct posture.

How to prevent yourself from experiencing headaches. Avoiding lifting too much weight or sitting in one posture for a long time is a great way to avoid having too many headaches. If you’re not resting or getting enough sleep or you are under a lot of stress, it is best to allow your body to have the rest it needs and use some relaxation techniques.

Our Chiropractors have developed a management plan to deal specifically with cervicogenic headaches. Our aim is to remove the source of the headache. Whether that be from the neck joint or muscles, then we want to improve your joint mobility and your ability to move your head. Our Chiropractors will give strategies to remove inflammation, which is usually the source of pain. Once you are out of pain and happy, we need to prevent recurrences through advice, education and a specific exercise program.

Facts about headaches. 85% of the population will experience a headache within the next 12 months. About 40% of children over the age of one have had a headache with in the last 7 years.

The total cost of headache disability in the US is estimated at 16.6 billion dollars.

Estimated that 10% of headaches come from a serious underlying cause like a tumour, vascular problem or infection. These people generally seek hospitalisation early as they can tell something is really a problem.

There is evidence to show that the most frequent dysfunctional segment on the spine in cases of people who suffer from headaches is C2 to 3.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are a type of headache that are usually in the parts of your face where your mucus membranes are. They can occur due to infection or allergic irritation of the sinuses. Most people have some kind of nasal discharge and a headache developed after an illness or other infection.

Sinus headaches usually develop during the day around 9am and are most intense during the middle of the day before residing around 6 pm. People often experience tense type pain when they are bending forward and their sinuses are under more pressure. Touching the sinuses is often tender and very sore and blockages are often seen in the sinuses when MRI tested. Your sinuses are located in a couple of different places. There are some over the part of your upper teeth, there is some in your forehead and there are some that can radiate to your temples or even your ear.

Tension Headaches:

Tension headaches often start at a random time during the day and increase in intensity slowly. People often wake up from sleep with these kind of headaches or they occur shortly after they have stood up from bed. This kind of headache experience increases stress, lack of sleep or fatigue. People often get these when they’re not eating properly or during their menstrual cycle. Most people experience tension headaches that are both sided, usually at the front of their head or in their temples.

People describe this pain is dull tightness rather than a pain sensation. People use words like tightness, pressure or soreness to describe the feeling of a band around their head or like a heavy weight, that pushes on top of their head. These headaches do not pulsate. Tension type headaches can last from 30 minutes up to a week and are generally not aggravated by physical activity.

People find relief with normal pain medication. They can also experience lack of appetite, neck & shoulder stiffness. The profile of someone who experiences tension type headaches are often high in anxiety, depression and have a type a perfectionist personality.

The Cluster Headache

Cluster headache has been described as the worst pain that a human can possibly experience. Women with cluster headaches have said that the attacks are worse than giving childbirth, so you can imagine what people are going through when they experience attacks like this for weeks at a time. People with Cluster headaches are completely disabled from burst of pain that are so intense that people are generally put on suicide watch. This type of headache is extremely rare but extremely painful. There is a 4 times higher rate of a male experiencing cluster headaches compare to females and usually around the age of 28 years old is when they start to occur.

Cluster headaches occur on one side of the head usually around the eye or temple. They last from 2.5 hours and can occur several times per day and often at night. Typically, cluster headaches will reach the maximum intensity within 2-minutes so there is not much time to prepare for these kind of headaches. Before having a cluster headache people often feel low in energy, irritable, nauseous or have strange sensations throughout their body. People describe cluster headaches as constant pressing or burning even like a hot poker in the eye or extreme pressure behind the eye.

Some people will experience a throbbing sensation while they have cluster headaches. Usually people experience his headaches 1 to 2 times a day and most of the time between 4am and 10 am. Patients often wake about 90 minutes after going to sleep and are experiencing a cluster headache. During the start of a cluster headache there are medications that can help, and some foods to be avoided.

It is best to speak to a health professional about it before deciding what to do. For relief some people use inhalation of 100% oxygen which has shown some benefit. When someone is having a cluster attack they usually prefer to be on their own, usually appearing aggravated, restless and may rock front to back or ‘to and fro’. People have impulsive feelings to move around or even to go outside to deal with the pain they may compress or rub their head, walk around aimlessly back-and-forth, apply cold substances to the site of their pain, seek a dark room and, rarely, will engage and violent behaviour, such a striking their head or hitting their head on the wall due to the severity of the pain during the attack.

About a quarter of people who suffer from a cluster headache will only have one in their life.

If you think you suffer from cluster headaches our Chiropractic team is here to help guide and assist you with your pain. Click here to get treated.

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