Did you know that chiropractors are trained to help their patients with headaches? There are many types of headaches someone can experience, and your chiropractor can assist you with treating all of them.
A tension type headache is the most common type of headache, affecting up to 75% of all headache sufferers. It is often caused by a muscle strain, or contraction in the brain. The pain is felt either on the forehead or on the back of the head and neck. Patients described it as a dull ache, or a band-like sensation, surrounding their head as if they were wearing a tight swim cap.
Tension headaches begin gradually, and they can last from a few hours to as long as several weeks. Although the pain can, at times, be severe, tension headaches are not usually associated with other symptoms such as nausea, throbbing or vomiting. Common factors which may trigger tension headaches include stress, diet, fatigue, and poor posture.
About 25 million people in the U.S. experience migraine headaches, and about 75% of this population are women. Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches which are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. The headache pain occurs when the blood vessels of the head dilate (expand) and press on sensitive nerve endings. Conditions which may trigger migraine headaches include stress, certain foods, fatigue and a female’s menstrual cycle.
There are two types of migraines: the common migraine and the classic migraine. These headaches are often preceded by an “aura” (unusual visual sensations, such as blotches or sparkles), or by sensations of weakness, numbness, or tingling. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, cold hands and feet, and a feeling of soreness or exhaustion following the migraine. Though these headaches are just as severe as the common migraine, they generally do not last as long (24 hours or less).
In order to prevent migraines, it is important to understand some of the triggers associated with such pain. Examples of triggers include: lack of sleep, stress, flickering lights, strong odors, changing weather patterns and several foods (especially foods which are high in an amino acid called ‘tyramine’). You can reduce the likelihood of migraine headaches by making some lifestyle changes.
Cluster headaches affect about 1 million people in the United States and, unlike migraines, are much more common in men. The name “cluster” describes the way the headaches appear to us, in distinct clustered episodes. They tend to occur one to four time per day over a period of several days. In other words, you may experience consistent headaches for about a week or so, and then you may not experience them for some time afterwards. This is the only type of headache which tends to occur at night. Attacks usually last 15 to 30 minutes and occur in violent, punishing repetition. Like migraines, cluster headaches are likely to be related to a dilation of blood vessels in the brain, causing a localized increase in pressure. Alcohol is a common trigger of cluster headaches.