Headaches & Migraines

You’re sitting at your desk, working on a difficult task, when it suddenly feels as if a belt or vice is being tightened around the top of your head. Sound familiar? If so, you’ve suffered one of the many types of headaches that can occur on its own or as part of another disease or health condition. Anyone can experience what we call a headache. Nearly 2 out of 3 children will have a headache by age 15. More than 9 in 10 adults will experience a headache sometime in their life. Headaches are our most common form of pain and a major reason for days missed at work or school, as well as visits to the doctor. Without proper treatment, headaches can be severe and interfere with daily activities. Certain types of headache run in families. Episodes of headache may ease or even disappear for a time and recur later in life. It is possible to have more than one type of headache at the same time. Additionally, headaches can range in frequency and severity of pain. Some individuals may experience headaches once or twice a year, while others may experience headaches more than 15 days a month. Some headaches may recur or last for weeks at a time. Pain can range from mild to disabling and may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea or increased sensitivity to noise or light, depending on the type of headache.

There are two categories to headaches : Primary and Secondary. Primary headaches are not due to an organic underlying condition but are biological disorders. Where as, Secondary headaches are also called “organic headaches” may be due to recent head injury or another disorder.

Primary Headaches

Migraines – although individuals experience migraines differently, this type of headache is characterized by throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. Suffers may also experience nausea or vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, all of which may cause inability to perform daily activities. Less than one-third of people who experience migraines suffer from “aura,” which are visual disturbances such as light, blind spots, or zigzag lines. Migraine attacks vary from person to person, lasting anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. They usually occur in three phases: 1) pre-headache, 2) headache, and 3) post-headache. Pre and post-headache phases can last from hours to days and sufferers may experience muscle tenderness, fatigue, and mood changes. Migraines are often hereditary and are more common in women.

Cluster Headaches – is named for the grouping of attacks. These relatively short (30 to 120 minutes) attacks start suddenly with severe pain on one side of the head or neck. Headache periods can last several weeks of months and then disappear for months or even years. Primarily affecting men, cluster headaches generally occur in spring and autumn, and are often erroneously associated with seasonal allergies or stress. Like migraines, the pain of cluster headaches is related to an inflammatory process that develops from the interaction of the trigeminal nerve and blood vessels in the covering of the brain. It is believed that the deep area of the brain, call the hypothalamus, is responsible for the pattern of cluster headaches.

Tension-type headaches – is the most common form of headache. Sufferers can experience “hat band” or generalized pain over the entire head. It is believed that the underlying cause of tension-type headaches is due to chemical and neuronal imbalances in the brain or due to muscle tightening in the head or back of the neck. There are 3 categories of tension-type headache based on how frequently they occur. 1) Episodic tension-type headaches occur less than once per month and is usually triggered by temporary stress, anxiety, fatigue or anger. 2) Frequent tension-type headaches occur 1 – 15 days per month and can occur with a migraine headache. 3) Chronic tension-type headache, also called Chronic Daily Headache, occurs 15 or more days per month; this type is associated with depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems of unknown origin.

Secondary Headaches

A secondary headache, also called organic, is not a disease by itself; it is a symptom of another disease or disorder. Sufferers of secondary headache can experience loss of ability to focus, confusion, loss of consciousness, and pain that becomes progressively worse of becomes the worst headache ever experienced. Some of the underlying diseases/disorders of organic headache can include tumors, high blood pressure, infections and other head diseases and disorders. Because the underlying cause of secondary headache can be life-threatening, it is important to see your healthcare provider right away.

How can a Chiropractor help with headaches?

Chiropractic care may help prevent unnecessary tension and/or irritation in the neck and head. In some instances, chiropractic adjustments (specific spinal manipulations) can provide immediate relief for headache victims. Every person who suffers from a headache or headaches is an individual case and may require special instructions or recommendation from their chiropractor. A Chiropractor will ascertain the foot of the headaches and treat the root which in turn will lessen the sign which is the headache. Even frequent headaches can negatively affect your viewpoint and your productivity, at home or at work. Instead of reaching for the medications, reach for a safer and more effective form of relief. Make an appointment to see our chiropractor here at the Madison Clinic in North York near Yonge and Sheppard – Dr. Michael Rodney now and rid yourself from headaches the natural and safe way.