Common Types of Headaches




Cervicogenic Headaches
Cervicogenic headaches refer to headaches which originate from tissues and structures in the cervical spine or neck. The headache is generally a constant, strong, yet dull pain. The most common location of pain is usually above the eye, the side of the head, the back of the head at the base of the skull or the upper neck area. The headache can last for days and reoccur periodically until resolved. The headache may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing of the ears, and sensitivity to light and sound - similar to migraine headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are caused by irritation or injury to the nerves, muscles and joints of the upper neck region, resulting in local neck pain as well as referred pain to the side of the head or face. This headache can be precipitated or made worse by head and neck movements, and by applying deep pressure to the muscles of the upper cervical area. Chiropractic care can be a great way to eliminate these headaches. If you ignore the problems in cervical spine, the headache may continue to persist and worsen. Patients need to be warned that relying on pain relievers to remedy this type of headache does nothing to correct the cause of the headache and generally worsens the headache in what's known as the "rebound effect".



Muscle Tension Headaches
Muscle tension headaches are the most common type of headache, representing approximately 60% of all headaches. These headaches are caused by the continuous contraction of the muscles in the neck and upper back region. This sustained muscle contraction is usually a result of one or a combination of the following:
i. cervical/neck misalignments and faulty neck biomechanics
ii. previous neck/upper back injury- not properly rehabilitated
iii. poor posture
iv. Excessive emotional stress
v. anxiety or depression
vi. prolonged sitting or driving
vii. improper sleeping habits
Characteristically, these headaches are generally mild to moderate in intensity and can last from hours to days. There is a constant pressure sensation, like a tight band wrapped around the head. There is usually pain and tenderness in the area of the neck and shoulder with pain starting in the base of the skull and spreading outwards to affect other areas. Chiropractors have great success treating muscle tension headaches. By utilizing spinal manipulative therapy, physical therapy modalities, therapeutic exercises and stretches, soft tissue techniques such as trigger point therapy and massage, and by counseling on lifestyle modification, tension headaches can become a thing of the past.


Post-Traumatic Headaches
Post-traumatic headaches are caused head or neck injury, such as a whiplash-type injury or blow to the head. The resulting headache varies from person to person. Most commonly, the resulting post-traumatic headache is one of the following:
• post-traumatic cervico-genic headache
• post-traumatic muscle tension headache
• post-traumatic migraine headache
• post-traumatic cluster headache
• post-traumatic vascular headache
The most favorable outcomes occur when treatment is provided early. It's also important to rule out a subdural hematoma immediately after a traumatic injury to the heads A subdural hematoma is a potentially fatal condition caused by intracranial bleeding. Chiropractors frequently treat post-traumatic headaches and do so with success. Again, patientss should be warned that relying on analgesics to remedy post-traumatic headaches does nothing to correct the cause of the headache and generally worsens the headache in what's known as the "rebound effect".



Drug-Induced Headaches
Research has shown that as many as 60% of chronic headaches are drug-induced. It's quite ironic that the abuse or frequent use of medications used to relieve the symptoms of a headache can actually end up perpetuating the headache or cause new headaches. In addition, physical dependency and organ damage are common complications associated with chronic analgesic use, especially when associated with alcohol consumption. Drug-induced headaches are usually dull, diffuse and non-throbbing affecting both sides of the head. They are frequently present first thing in the morning and persist throughout the day. Medical experts say that pain relieving medications (over the counter or prescription) should not be used more frequently than 1 to 2 days per week. Using medications beyond this period may gradually increase the frequency of the headaches and further increase the intensity of the headache pain. The many TV drug commercials are designed to make us think that pain relievers are a safe effective means of relief for headaches. However, taking pain medication for chronic headaches without seeking corrective care is like unplugging the smoke detector during a house fire without putting out the fire. Here are common medications which can lead to the development of drug-induced headaches.
• aspirin
• Tylenol
• Excedrin
• Anacin
• Demerol
• Vicodin
• Percocet
• Darvon
• Xanex
• Fiorinal
• oral contraceptives
• tetracycline
• heart medications
• anticoagulants
• Dilantin
Simply eliminating or limiting the use of analgesic use will resolve most if not all of the headaches. If you are experiencing headaches and are taking these medications, talk with your Medical provider about this issue. However, most individuals are unaware that the drugs they're taking can sometimes do them more harm than good.



Migraine Headaches
Migraines account for approximately 10% of all headaches. Researchers have found that 3.4 million females and 1.1 million males suffer from 1 migraine attack per month. Migraines follow a familial course, with 70% of migraine sufferers having other family members who are also affected. Migraine headaches often have coexisting muscle tension and cervicogenic factors. These may often contribute to the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. The pain generated by migraines has a throbbing quality and usually involves one side of the head initially. The headache tends to reach its peak intensity after about 30 minutes. Migraines are commonly accompanied by nausea and vomiting. During severe attacks, sensitivity to sound and light may occur thus forcing the person to seek a dark and quiet room. The duration of the headache can vary from a few hours to a few days.
Migraine headaches are categorized into either "common" or "classical" migraines. Classical Migraines differ from common migraines in that the headache is preceded by neurologic disturbances (called prodromal effects) which indicate a migraine attack is about to occur. These can include alterations in the visual field (zigzag lines, blind spots, etc.), numbness or tingling of the lips or hands, problems with balance and even loss of consciousness. These disturbances may last 15 to 30 minutes and resolve before the headache begins. In some cases, the disturbances may last several days after the headache has resolved.
Clinical trials conducted on Chiropractic's effectiveness in the treatment of migraine headaches have shown remarkable improvement in many cases.

Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are most common in middle-aged male smokers and are among the most painful of all headaches. The individual often wakes up 1 to 3 hours after going to sleep with the headache in a full-blown state. This headache lasts about 1 hour and the attacks occur often over several days to weeks - thus the name "cluster". These headaches will then disappear for periods of months to years before returning. The pain in cluster headaches is deep, nonthrobbing and severe. They can be located behind an ear and may radiate to the forehead and temple regions. There is also tearing of the affected eye, nasal congestion, and nasal drip.
Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking a nap can often precipitate attacks.
Immediate administration of oxygen (100% at 7 liters for 15 minutes) has been shown to provide some relief. Other treatments that have been shown to be helpful is dipping the hand in ice water to the point of pain and elevating the bed.