There are three different types of common headache. Each headache has distinct causes and different successful treatments. There are many other rarer causes of headaches but these three collectively comprise the majority of headaches suffered in Australia.
Migraine is an on-going, recurrent headache disorder. It causes headache attacks which last 4-72 hours. The migraine headache is typically (but not always) felt on one side of the head, throbbing, and moderate to severe in intensity. It is also usually aggravated by physical activity and sufferers often have a relative with similar symptoms. Along with the described headache, a migraine attack can cause nausea and an aversion to bright light & loud noise.
Some people can also have an aura before their migraine headache occurs. An aura gives odd neurological symptoms. These are most typically visual disturbances, sensory sensations (e.g., pins and needles) or changes in speech. However, these symptoms can also be signs of more serious conditions (such as stroke) and so a speedy diagnosis is key, particularly if these symptoms are new.
Some migraines can be prevented by removing triggers. Common migraine triggers include neck and jaw dysfunction as well as things like chocolate, alcohol, oranges, caffeine and stress. Chiropractic treatment has been shown to be an effective treatment for migraine headaches. Some prescription medications are also effective, as are Botox injections. Treatment should be chosen based on what gives the greatest relief and produces the fewest side-effects for the sufferer.
Tension-type headaches are very common. This headache is typically mild to moderate in intensity, felt on both sides of the head and feels like tightening pressure around the head. This headache can last a few minutes to a few days. The pain does not worsen with routine physical activity and should not cause nausea. It may cause sufferers either aversion to bright light or loud noise, but not both.
Tension type headache is considered a stress headache. It often improves with simple remedies such as cessation of stressful activity, a drink of water, and over the counter painkillers. Tension headaches typically do not improve with Chiropractic adjustments, however they can respond well to other Chiropractic treatments such as cranial massage.
Cervicogenic means ’caused by the neck’. This headache results from dysfunction of the spine and surrounding muscles. The headache usually begins at the base of the skull and then comes over the head to the front. A cervicogenic headache can be accompanied by symptoms such as neck pain or tightness, but can occur without neck pain.
Issues with the jaw, such as clicking, grinding and clenching, commonly contribute to these headaches. These jaw problems may also be symptoms of poor neck posture. This is because the jaw has a strong mechanical and neurological relationship with the head and neck.
Chiropractic has been shown to be very effective with cervicogenic headaches. Treatment varies between cases but should always aim to address the underlying causes of neck dysfunction. These underlying causes might include poor spinal mobility, muscle imbalances, poor posture, workplace ergonomics and jaw dysfunction.
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This content is provided for educational purposes only and may not be applicable to your own situation. We recommend that you consult a chiropractor or other healthcare professional to receive personal diagnostics. To make an appointment at our clinic in Caringbah, just click the booking button at the bottom of the page or contact us for additional information.
Scott Leabeater is The Backstory Chiropractic’s Principal Chiropractor. Scott uses up to date research literature to guide an evidence based approach to diagnosis and treatment. His unique professionalism and knowledge has made Scott highly sought after. Throughout his career he has treated everyone from local office workers to Olympic athletes. Scott is an AHPRA registered Chiropractor and member of Chiropractic Australia.