HOW OR WHY DO HEADACHES OCCUR?
Headaches are typically a paining sensation which occurs in the head, which is located in the the cranial and sinus regions. The sensation of pain is triggered by nerves in the neck muscles and blood vessels, which send pain signals to the brain.
Even though this process is not yet fully understood, the most common reasons for the occurrence of headaches include:
- Illnesses, such as colds, fever and infections can cause headaches to occur, but this can also be a symptom of a more severe medical problem
- Philological stress is a common cause of headaches in adults, but this can also be triggered by physical stress on the body, such as a lack of sleep, alcohol abuse, eating disorders and straining of various muscles like the neck, back and eyes
- The environment can trigger headaches through inhalation of pollution or chemical odours, bright lights and loud noises
ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF HEADACHES?
Even though headaches can seem very similar, there is a range of different types of headaches, each with distinct characteristic and each may occur for different reason. Understanding what kind of headache you may be suffering from can be key in deciding on the correct treatment.
THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF HEADACHES ARE:
This kind of headache is the most common occurring type and in adolescents and adults. The only symptom is a mild pain that gradually builds up and subsides again as time passes.
With this type of headache, one may feel an intense piercing or burning pain, originating from behind or in the general region of the eye. These may consist of a throbbing sensation or constant pain. Due to the intense pain often experience, people suffering from such a headache may become visibly restless. This can also be accompanied by redness or drooping of the affected eye, as well as a runny nose.
Cluster headaches can last anywhere between 5 minutes and 3 hours and may occur up to three times a day- over the span of several weeks up to 3 months.
These headaches generally occur in the sinus and cheek bone region and are characterised by a constant and deep pain. This is due to the inflammation of the sinal cavities and is generally accompanied by other sinus related symptoms, such as swelling of the face, a running nose and sometimes even a fever. The inflammation of the sinal cavities is typically caused by an infection of the sinuses and accordingly any discharge from the nasal passage is yellowish or green.
This type of headache mainly affects women, and can occur during menopause, pregnancy and even during their period. This is due to changing hormone levels in the body and can also be triggered by taking birth control tablets.
HOW ARE MIGRAINES DIFFERENT TO HEADACHES?
Migraines can be characterized by intense throbbing and pounding headaches, which can occur alongside several other symptoms, such as visual impairment, loss of balance, temporary paralysis, numbness or a tingling feeling in extremities, slurred speech and confusion.
Thus headache is only one of the symptoms of the migraine, which can last for several hours and up to three days. The occurrence of migraines is often times hereditary and is sometimes attributed to genetic problems in specific areas of the brain.
HOW ARE HEADACHES DIAGNOSED?
If you suffer from recurring or severe headaches, it is advisable to see a doctor about diagnosis and treatment of the headache. It is however not always easy for a doctor to diagnose and besides information which the doctor will gather from a physical examination, it may be extremely helpful if you are able to provide accurate information on your headaches.
Information which may be useful can include:
- How often you experience the headache and their general durations
- What are the triggers or causes for the occurrence of the headaches
- What makes the headaches or pain worsen and what measures provide relief
- It may also be helpful to have sufficient details about your diet and eating schedule
In addition to such information, you doctor may request further tests such as MRIs or CT scans.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HEADACHES
The treatment of a headache will generally depend on their frequency, intensity and causes. Not all people experiencing headaches require any medical attention, but if they do the doctor may prescribe medications, suggest counselling or introduce stress management therapy. Stress management treatments and activities can refer to a broad range of measures which can help reduce stress.
If however during your treatment, the headaches increase in frequency, duration or intensity, you may have to see a headache specialist for further diagnosis and more appropriate treatment options. A headache diary can be an extremely useful tool in monitoring the progress of your treatment.
MEASURES YOU CAN TAKE TO COMPLEMENT MEDICAL TREATMENT
Even though most mild headaches can be easily relieved with the help of a mild sedative, it is not advisable to use such medications too regularly. In the event of reoccurrence or for severe headaches it may be more beneficial to adopt lifestyle changes to help manage the risk of headaches occurring.
Some lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce headaches include:
- Regular exercise is an excellent stress reliever and improve the overall health of the bodily, decreasing the chances of stress related headaches such as tension headaches from occurring
- Excessive levels of caffeine and alcohol consumption should be avoided as these may increase stress and also disrupt natural sleep patterns
- A healthy and balanced diet is crucial in ensuring proper functioning of the body and thus a reduction in the risk of a headache occurrence
- Smoking should be avoided altogether
METHODS OF REDUCING HEADACHES RISKS AND MANAGING PAIN
Regardless of how healthy our lifestyles are and how proactive we are in managing our headache risks, we all experience headaches from time to time. There are however simple and practical methods we can utilise in the home or office to help us cope with these sometimes unbearable afflictions.
USE THE RIGHT PILLOWS AND MATTRESSES TO HELP WITH HEADACHES
Depending on the position you sleep in as well as your height and weight, different types of mattresses and pillows offer varying kinds of support to your body and more specifically neck. With the right combination, you should be able to get a peaceful night’s rest without any pains and strains in the morning
SET UP YOUR WORK STATION CORRECTLY
Most of us find ourselves sitting for long periods of time during the typical work day, yet so often we neglect to properly adjust our seat height and back support. Generally speaking, turning of the neck and head should be minimised or avoided altogether when at a work station. Also you should remember that if you are in one stationary position for long periods of the day, this should be broken by regular intervals where you should get up and move around to stretch.
STAY PROPERLY HYDRATED
Just as important as maintaining a balanced diet, our body functions optimally when we have sufficient nutrients as well as enough water. For an adult this is around 2 quarts of water per day. This amount however should be increased if you take part in sports or exercises, or if it is a hot day during which you are likely to perspire more.
HOW CAN A CHIROPRACTOR HELP YOUR HEADACHE OR MIGRAINE PROBLEMS?
First of all, chiropractic is the study and practice of the treatment for mechanical disorders of the mucoskeletal system, of which the spine is most important. As misalignment of the spine and neck can place strain on the entire body, which can result in symptoms such as headaches and migraines, the treatment of such mechanical disorders can also help bring relief.
This is usually preceded by an initial examination to determine whether headaches may be caused or intensified by poorly aligned spinal vertebrae. Thus, if it is determined that chiropractic treatment can help treat your headache; a specific treatment will be identified. This is not always the case and if indeed the cause of the headache cannot be treated by a chiropractic specialist, another specialist may be referred.
Depending on the severity of the headaches, chiropractic treatments will gradually grant more and more relief from the headaches as not all causes of headaches can be treated immediately. More severe disorders may take some time to treat and may not go away altogether through only one type of treatment.
WHAT KIND OF CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENTS ARE ADMINISTERED FOR HEADACHES?
Adjustment of the spine and vertebrae in the treatment of headaches is just one of several types of treatments which are used. Other treatment types which may be prescribed by the chiropractor include:
- Educating the patient on factors which ay positively or negatively impact on their headaches and how to best manage them
- Soft tissue therapy can be used such as massages and stretching
- Alternative medical therapies such as acupuncture, electrical stimulation and several others
- Exercise and rehabilitation where necessary
- Lifestyle changes and increased ergonomy
MASSAGE THERAPY FOR RELIEVING HEADACHES
Massage therapy is used in the treatment of migraine and tension headaches. This is done through two distinct functions:
- Massage therapy helps to relieve and regulate stress levels within the body, reducing the change of a headache occurring, through relaxing specific muscles and pressure points
- Massage can additionally be used for management of the pain and discomfort caused by a headache through massaging the head neck and shoulders
- Cumulatively, massage therapy, much like other chiropractic treatments also have knock-on effects, such as improved sleep patterns which can then also trigger a healthier appetite and assist with a more active lifestyle. Thus, these types of treatments will usually be offered or advised in conjunction with one another.
Simple Massages You can Do at Home To Help Your Headache
Even though going to a trained and qualified professional usually produces the best results for headache pain relief and risk management, there are some simple massages that you, a family member or a friend can do which can greatly help. Most of these can be done for as little as 5 minutes at a stretch.
- Massaging of the region just above the temple on either side of the head with the middles and forefingers, to sooth the temporalis muscle which is a common point of headache occurrence. While doing this you should move the fingers around to any areas which experience discomfort and open and close jaw repeatedly while applying light pressure
- One can use the index finger to apply pressure to the spot just above the eye and below the eyebrow- on the bone. This is known as the orbicularis muscle and can also be gently pinched as opposed to gentle pressure. This may be especially useful if you have to look at a computer screen or similar for long periods of time and develop tension headaches in this region.
- Pinching the muscle located between the neck and shoulders, commonly known as the trapezius muscle can provide great relief in the lower neck region. Pinches can last up to one minute but should not be done too harshly so as to aggravate or hurt the muscle
Call us today at 773-852-3335 for a free consultation with the doctor to see if we can help you live without headaches and migraines. Or you also can schedule an appointment conveniently online below.