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Headaches

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The International Headache Society classifies headaches into Primary and Secondary. Primary headaches account for 94% of all types and are made up of cervicogenic (neck related), tension and migraine type headaches. Secondary headaches are only 6% of all headaches and come from underlying pathology such as tumors. Due to the potential emergency that a secondary headache represents, all headaches need to be evaluated and a secondary headache needs to be ruled out.

Research shows that primary headaches have common traits and may share common triggers. Regardless of which type of primary headache someone may suffer with, all the types have links to lifestyle factors. Poor lifestyles result in problems with physical body, nutritional and psychological issues.

Cervicogenic Headaches

This pain in the head has its source somewhere in the neck. For example, some of the tissues in the neck that could be referring pain into the head are vertebral joints, suboccipital neck muscles, prevertebral neck muscles, intervertebral discs, spinal and cranial dura matter, the TMJ (jaw), trapezius muscle and sternocleidomastoid muscle. The headache can be one sided without switching sides. The pain can also begin under the base of the skull and then radiate over the top of the head to the eyes. Occasionally, there can be accompanying arm/shoulder pain. Patients often report that their neck feels stiff and that certain postures and certain neck movements affect the headache. Research shows that chiropractic management can be an effective approach to relieve cervicogenic headache pain.

Typically, patients suffering with cervicogenic headaches won't find relief with medications. This is likely due to the fact that the underlying neck disorder needs to be treated. Best treatment for neck disorders is a comprehensive treatment approach that uses manual medicine and rehabilitative stretches and exercises.

Migraine Headaches

This headache pain is typically reported as one sided. It is described as a throbbing, stead ache. There may be associated visual disturbances, sensitivity to lights and sounds, nausea and vomiting. The headache can be triggered by food, postural changes and other environmental factors. The cause for the headache is not fully known. The natural, chiropractic approach to improving pain has show to be effective for many who suffer from migraine-type headaches.

Tension/Stress Headaches

These headache symptoms are commonly reported as a dull pain in the forehead, temples and base of skull. They are sometimes referred to having a "hat band" pattern. The pain is described as vise-like pressure. The pain may last for days and weeks at a time with the pain increasing and decreasing during the day, but never going away. These headaches are typically triggered by stress, over use of caffeine, over use of over the counter pain medications, fatigue, eyestrain and even digestive problems. There is a link between stress headaches and postural strain. Sedentary office workers who do a lot of computer work often develop these headaches due to changes in posture over time. Chiropractic care that improves posture and reduces the effect stress has had on the body can offer relief for those with tension type headaches.

Post Trauma Headaches

These are headaches that come from trauma to the head and neck. Typically, these unique headaches are seen in motor vehicle trauma patients. The pain is reported as a broad band of tension, tightness and constriction over the entire head. There are a variety of tissues (many pain sensitive) in the head and neck that can be traumatized. Tearing of tissues in trauma can cause the tissues to leak potassium, sodium, etc. into the body, influencing pain levels.

As one can see, there are many similarities between the different types of primary headaches. The single biggest similiarity that they all share is a link with the nerves, joints, tissues and muscles of the body. Unresolved neck issues from neck and back trauma are a frequent cause of suffering for those with headaches. Regrettably, headaches can begin as early as childhood.

Finally, headaches are not normal. They are a signal, from your body to you, to get something handled. If you can't eliminate headaches easily with lifestyle changes (medication use only covers up the headache, dooming it to return), then make an appointment to have your headaches investigated.

To make an appointment, please call 651-925-5530.

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Twin Cities Headache Neck & Back
245 Ruth Street North #205
St. Paul, MN 55119
(651) 925-5530

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245 Ruth Street North #205

St. Paul, MN 55119