Headaches are unfortunately common in the general population. There are different types of headaches that have characteristic presentations.
Tension Headaches feel like a constant ache or pressure around the head. These are normally not as severe as other types but are a constant pain. They do not often restrict a person’s daily activities.
Cluster Headaches are characterized by debilitating one sided pain. Although this type of headache doesn’t last long compared to the others, it may periodically occur and affects the individual greatly.
Migraine Headaches are often one sided as well but is described more as a throbbing sensation. These headaches may also be accompanied with an aura, nausea, or sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines may last up to a few days and severely affect the person’s activities of daily living. Often a person may feel the need to go into a dark, quiet room and sleep. This type of headache may have triggers, so it is important to document when headaches occur to determine what the trigger may be for you.
Cervicogenic Headaches are headaches that may be stemming from the neck. These may present on both sides and be more of an ache. This may occur after a neck injury or strenuous movements.
Treatment may differ depending on the type of headache that you are experiencing. If the headache is severe, then focus may be on pain management and referring to your medical doctor for what medications to use would be advised. If the headaches are more chronic in nature, alternative health care is a good method of preventative and reactive treatment.
All the headaches mentioned may benefit from acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and massage. The migraines and cervicogenic headaches do normally respond directly to these forms of care. The tension headaches and the cluster headache affects on the body may benefit from these types of modalities. When these headaches occur, muscles often tighten and joints become restricted resulting in dysfunction of those areas.
Ensuring that the joints in the spine and neck are moving well without restriction, and loosening the tight muscles of the neck has been shown effective in the treatment of migraines and cervicogenic headaches.
I ask each patient that I treat with headaches to keep track of when they get their headaches and what they were doing when they started to determine triggers. Headache patients are very rewarding to treat because in certain cases there is a drastic increase in their quality of life. I have treated many patients that start out having a few severe headaches a week that are debilitating, and with regular maintenance care may only have one or two minor headaches a month.
Ensure you are doing what you can to enjoy your life as much as possible without headaches getting in the way. If you haven’t already, you should contact a health care provider to see what they can do to help!