Do you Have a Headache? 4 Types and How to Treat Them

Most Canadians will suffer from at least one headache in their lifetime but the reason can differ so much from person to person. Headaches are one of the most common types of pain experiences for all of humanity.

First let me explain the main types:

  1. Migraine
  2. Cervicogenic
  3. Tension-type
  4. Cluster

1. Migraines

The cause of migraines is still unknown but there seems to be a relationship between a person and their environment. People report many triggers such hormonal changes, food and additives, stress, sleep, physical and sensory factors, changes in certain medication or changes in the environment.

People describe them as an intense throbbing or pulsing sensation on one or both sides of the head and can be accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, with nausea or vomiting. An aura can proceed the migraine which can present itself as a flash of light, blind spots or tingling.

2. Cervicogenic

This headache stems form the neck and can be worsened by neck movement. Pain is usually one sided and many report it starts at the base of the skull and spreads to the front of the head.

3. Tension-type

Usually this type of headache is due to tension in the muscles of the neck or face which produces pain. Other factors such as stress, anxiety, eyestrain, poor posture or injury can inflict them. The pain is dull and achy with constant pain and pressure in the head. Most people describe it as a tight band around the head affecting both sides of the head, forehead, temples and even back of the head.

4. Cluster

Cluster headaches may be caused by problems in regulating  temperature, blood pressure, hormones or sleep. Medication, alcohol and tobacco have also been labelled as associated factors producing cluster headaches. Usually it is felt as severe, stabbing, penetrating, burning or explosive pain recurring on one side of the head. They come on rapidly and appear in patterns or clusters over a certain period of time. Usually described as behind the eye which can cause watering of the eye, stuffy or runny nose, droopy eyelid, facial swelling or flushing and sensitivity to light and noise.

Clearly not all headaches can be looked at the same but all headaches suck.

So what can you do?

1) Drink water

When you experience dehydration (or a loss of fluid), the brain itself can shrink and pull away from the skull causing irritation to the structures and pain in your head. Once you re-hydrate yourself, the brain returns to its normal size which can help the headache go away.

2) Minimize bright lights

Bright lights can stimulate brain pathways that cause headache pain in some people.

3) Eat well and figure out your triggers

Your diet can play a huge part if or when you get headaches. You need to figure out trigger foods and by removing them, you can reduce or remove headaches all together. If you have no idea where to start, go to a holistic nutritionist or naturopath. You can do some allergy or sensitivity testing as well, which has been helpful for many people.

4) Get your body moving

When you have a headache, getting a workout in can feel daughting and brutal, in all honesty. BUT if you can muster up some will power, exercise has been known to release endorphins which are the bodies natural painkillers.

5) Get checked

When you come to a Chiropractor with a headache, you will notice your Doctor asking a bunch of different questions such as when did it start, where are you feeling it, etc. The thing is, the causes of each headache are not completely understood but many people have benefited from getting checked and adjusted by a chiropractor when dealing with a headache.

Distortion in the spinal column can cause headaches due to misalignment of vertebrae and irritation on the discs, ligaments, soft tissues and blood vessels in the neck. If this is the case with your spine, a gentle adjustment will be given to improve the brain body connection. This increases blood flow to the brain to bring nutrients and clear out toxins, improves pumping of spinal fluid which can be sluggish in those with headaches and changes the alignment and function of the bones in the upper neck which are often out.

Even if it doesn’t take your headache away completely, you will always be better and better able to handle life if you nervous system is clear.

If you are a chronic headache sufferer, give these options a try and let the healing begin!

 

Dr. Sarah

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