Headache

Here’s a subject many if not all of you have had experience with, if not personally, then someone you know has. Headaches are nature’s alarm clock. A headache, no matter what kind, is an indication that something is wrong.

Several types of headaches exist. There are tension headaches, migraine headaches, cluster headaches, hormone based headaches, rebound headaches, sinus headaches, and organic headaches. Just what kind of headaches you are suffering from comes down to a Q & A session. A proper history is first and foremost. From there it’s all about where in your head you feel them, what kind of pain it is, how long they last, what makes them worse, what (if anything) makes them better, how powerful are they, how often are they, and how long do they last. Every type of headache has its own unique characteristics, kind of like you.

For a headache to be treated properly it has to be identified first. Yes, the internet provides tons of information for self-diagnosing, but more experience is needed to properly diagnose and treat these pesky buggers. A can of Raid may take care of the problem on the surface, but only an exterminator can truly fix the problem. Think of your Chiropractor as your headache exterminator.

Save yourself from working in vain. The work for identifying and treating headaches has already been done here. If your Chiropractor cannot successfully treat your headache he or she can certainly point you in the right direction.

The following are brief descriptions of the headaches I have mentioned above:

Tension Headaches – tension HA (headaches) are divided into two types, episodic and chronic. Episodic and chronic tension HA are distinguished by frequency. Chronic HA are the ones being referred to here. These usually attributed to physical problems, psychological issues, or depression. Pain usually begins in the temples and slowly becomes like a vice tightening around the head. These are fairly common to the 20-40 year range. Chronic tension headaches are often not alleviated by over-the-counter medications.

Migraine Headaches – here’s the one that deserves the attention that it receives. Migraine HA are responsible for more absenteeism from work and disrupted family life than any other type of HA. Migraine HA are considered vascular in nature because the arteries inside and around the skull increase in size during an attack. They begin as a dull ache which becomes constant, then becomes a throbbing and pulsating sensation in the temples as well as the front, back, or side of the head. Pain is sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. Migraines are usually unilateral in nature, meaning only one side of the head is affected. Migraine HA classified as those with and without an aura. An aura comes on from 5 to 30 minutes before the onset of a migraine and can be described as seeing wavy or jagged lines, tunnel vision, or having blind spots in one or both eyes. Five types of migraines exist: Hemiplegic, Opthalmoplegic, Retinal, Basilar Artery, and Abdominal migraines.

Migraine HA can have “triggers” such as stress, fatigue, oversleeping, lack of sleep, fasting, missing a meal, certain foods, medications, caffeine, chocolate (bummer!), alcohol (double bummer!), menses, hormonal changes, and even changes in barometric pressure or altitude.

Cluster Headaches – The poor souls that suffer from cluster HA experience the most severe and intense headaches. They come on with no apparent warning and last anywhere from 30 minutes to days. They attack in groups with one attack followed by another and another.   

Cluster HA are considered a type of migraine because they are also vascular in nature. Cluster HA normally attack half of the head and face with a severity that has been described as having an eye pierced with a knife. During an attack victims cannot sit still and feel compelled to rock in a chair, walk back and forth, or bang their heads against something. Unlike migraine HA, Cluster HA are not the result of heredity and are often associated with chronic smoking and are often triggered by alcohol.

Hormone Headaches – These types of HA are quite similar to migraines though only affect women and are found to have a correlation with PMS, menopause, and any event which may trigger a change in the levels of estrogen or progesterone.

Rebound Headaches – Rebound HA are caused by the overuse of analgesics, especially those which contain caffeine to increase the efficacy of the other ingredients. For example, if someone experiences chronic tension HA, and continues to take more and more over-the-counter or prescribed medications, the desired effect of reducing the HA is overshot. As a result a rebound HA is experienced.

Sinus Headaches – Here’s a good one for the Harrisburg population. I say this because the spores and molds growing around the river contribute to more allergies and sinus infections than most anywhere else in this part of the state. When sinuses become infected they swell and cannot drain their secretions into the nose. This creates pressure behind the eyes, in the cheeks, and in the forehead. Be certain that you are experiencing a true sinus HA before taking decongestants, because you could make the HA worse.

Organic Headaches – Here’s a fun one. Organic HA are the result of an abnormality in the brain or skull. They can be caused by a benign or malignant brain tumor, a brain aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage, encephalitis (internal brain swelling), meningitis, brain abscess, or brain infection.”… And a partridge in a pare tree”. The long and the short of these type HA is that less than 5% are caused by tumors and organic HA are fairly rare. If you are convinced or suspect that your HA has organic roots talk to your family Doctor or Chiropractor about it.

I hope this post will shed some light on the subject of headaches for you.  Many of theses headaches are traditionally treated by medication, but the truth is that many of them can be effectively controlled by other means. If you would like to explore these other means our office would be more than happy to discuss them with you. Headaches should not be allowed to continue, they are much too debilitating and troublesome to just be dealt with.