Are My Headaches Normal?
Headaches can be relatively common and for some have almost become “normal”. But there’s nothing normal about having headaches on a regular basis. First, it’s important to figure out what the source of a headache is and if there is something you can do to help reduce the intensity and frequency or eliminate them altogether.
Types of Headaches:
The location of a headache, the sensation, the intensity, when a headache comes on, can all be clues to help decipher what kind of headache you are experiencing.
A tension headache is often described as a tight band around your head. They are a very common type of headache. The pain tends to be dull and achy, or a pressure sensation. It is often accompanied by tenderness in the scalp, neck and/or shoulders.
Migraine headaches can cause intense throbbing pain typically on one side of your head. The pain may be accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms may last for a few hours to a few days at a time. Some may experience an aura (flashing light, blind spot, tingling) preceding the migraine. Lingering symptoms post migraine may include dizziness, fatigue, and confusion.
Cluster headaches are less common than the other types, however, the pain can be very intense. The pain from cluster headaches is thought to come from one of the nerves in your face; the trigeminal nerve. The irritation of this nerve can cause intense pain in the face, typically around the eye which typically lasts 30-90 minutes.
Cervicogenic headaches are considered secondary headaches meaning that the source of the issue is originating outside of where the pain is experienced. In this case, the culprit is the various structures in the neck. The pain is typically described as unilateral (on one side of the head or face), accompanied by a stiff neck and pain with neck range of motion.
Chiropractors are trained to access and manage headaches, however, co-management with another health care provider may be needed dependant on the patient’s case. Evidence supports the use of chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation in the treatment of tension-type and cervicogenic headaches. Many patients also report a reduction in the frequency and intensity of migraine type headaches with chiropractic care. Massage therapy can also be helpful in alleviating tense muscles in the neck and shoulders which can contribute to headaches.
When To Seek Emergency Care
Headaches may also be a sign of a more serious condition. Seeing emergency medical attention in the following circumstance may be warranted:
- Abrupt, severe headache that is atypical for you
- A headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or speaking difficulties
- A headache after a head injury
What You Can Do:
Tracking your headache symptoms can be helpful to you and your health care provider. There can be many triggers for headaches including:
Knowing when your symptoms occur and where they are located can be helpful in determining the type of headaches and the best course of care. To find out if chiropractic care might be a benefit to you, please contact us to book an appointment.
To book an appointment, call 613.860.8600 for our Byward location, and 613.237.9000 for our Glebe location.