Almost everyone will have a headache at some point in their life. There are a few types of headaches that can be drastically different. They may affect the whole head or just one section. They may be felt as anything from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain. They can last as short as a few minutes or as long as a few days. Some people have visual and auditory disturbances or even have nausea with their headache.
What causes headaches?
There are many reasons for headaches, including drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tight neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, but most can fit into one of two categories: tension headaches and migraine headaches. A third less common category is called cluster headaches.
These are the most common types, affecting around 75% of sufferers. They usually appear as a constant dull ache that affects both sides of the head, and some people describe them as the feeling of a tight band around the head to the base of the skull. They tend to come on slowly in the middle or toward the end of the day and can last from minutes to days or even longer. Although the pain can be severe, there are not usually any other symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting. Common causes of tension headaches include stress, poor posture, prolonged sitting, and poor diet.
Around 25 million people a year in the U.S. experience migraine headaches, 75% of whom are women. Migraines are characterized by intense pain and throbbing, often coupled with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. Their duration may be a few hours to several days, and there is sometimes a precursory visual symptom known as an “aura” that alerts the sufferer to the coming attack. This aura may be experienced as flashing lights or a dream-like appearance to the world.
Migraines tend to run in families and sufferers usually have their first attack before they reach 30 years old. Apart from this, the experience varies, with some people having several attacks every month, others perhaps once a year. They may also become more or less severe as the sufferer gets older. The cause of migraines is currently not well understood, and research is being completed to better understand these types of headaches. However, several common triggers have been identified. These include lack of sleep, stress, flickering lights, strong smells, a change of weather, and certain foods.
Cluster headaches are normally felt on one side of the head behind the eye, and this is the only headache that usually occurs at night. They don’t normally last long, but they are excruciating. Around 1 million people in the United States suffer this type of headache, and, unlike migraines, more men than women are affected. They are termed cluster headaches as they tend to occur up to four times a day over several days. The good news is that another bout may not occur again for months or years.
Chiropractic Treatment of headaches
Movement is key in treatment of tension headaches. Avoid long periods of sitting especially looking down. This puts a large amount of stress on the muscles at the base of the skull. Reducing Stress is another important factor, because stress increases muscle tone at a minimum. You will also want to Improve your sleep. The body does extensive tissue repair while you sleep. Good sleep is important for the body to recover. At our office we can do deep tissue work, called myofascial release, at the base of the skull and on the head to help relax muscle tone and release trigger points. We can also do other soft tissue techniques such as post-isometric release and stretching. Spinal adjustments have shown benefit in the past. So adjusting should be done if joint restrictions are found! Lasty, Reducing body inflammation is another important factor. You actually have inflammation in your body based on what you eat. The best way to avoid this is to reduce your sugar, refined carbohydrates( box, bag, or canned), and avoid alcohol/tobacco products.