Headaches

Symptoms

Symptoms of headaches include pounding or throbbing pain in any region of the head. The pain may be “band-like,” traveling around the head from back to front, or from your neck and around your ear to the temple. Sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue, and irritability can all be symptoms of headaches. In more severe (migraine) headaches, blurred vision, dizziness or loss of appetite can occur.

Causes

Headaches can be the result of a motor vehicle accident or a collision in a sport where head and neck trauma occur. Headaches can also be the result of tight or tense muscles of the neck and upper back, poor postural habits, upper cervical spine dysfunction (joint movement abnormality), or allergies. Straining of the eyes (reading very small print, extended computer viewing) can also trigger headaches. More serious and less common causes are cancer, aneurysm and vascular occlusion.

headache-shutterstock_155600597Background

Headaches are classified into 3 main categories: primary headaches (tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches), secondary headaches (caused by an underlying problem in the head or neck, such as tumor, infection or high blood pressure), and cranial neuralgias (the result of nerve pain). Primary headaches are most common. Most people experience a tension headache at some point in their life. Headaches can be very infrequent or can occur on a regular basis. Experiencing 2-3 headaches a year is considered “normal,” but any higher frequency is a sign that something is wrong in your body and may require treatment. Tight muscles of the upper back and neck can refer pain in several patterns including; band-like pain around the head that focuses above or behind the eyes, pain from the neck to around the ear that focuses into the temple, and pain at the back or top of the head. Physical and emotional stress, and poor posture can all contribute to tension headaches. Migraine headaches are vascular (arising from blood vessels) in nature. Cluster headaches tend to run in families and are thought to be caused by disturbed sleep patterns. Cluster headaches usually come frequently (several times each day) for a period of time, followed by a period of freedom from pain. They also tend to occur at the same time each day. Secondary headaches are those that are caused by some underlying structural problem. Bleeding in the brain, tumor or meningitis are all conditions that can result in secondary headaches. Head or neck trauma, such as a concussion, and blood vessel problems in the head or neck (stroke, transient ischemic attack) can also be underlying causes of secondary headaches. Cranial neuralgias are the result of nerve irritation in the head as opposed to muscular tension or underlying structural problems. When the nerves of the head and upper neck become inflamed they can refer pain, numbness or tingling to the head and face.

Aligned Medical Group’s Headache Remedies Approach

After determining the cause of your headache, we prescribe treatment consisting of spinal manipulation, postural correction, ergonomic guidance (at-home habit modification), massage therapy and trigger point work, therapeutic stretching and strengthening exercises, electric muscle stimulation, and ice or cold therapy. Cold laser treatments directed to the areas of tension relive pain immediately. The goal of treatment is to correct spinal and muscular dysfunctions so the intricate musculoskeletal system around the neck works more efficiently, thereby reducing tissue tensions. Spinal manipulation also has an immediate effect on the pain associated with headaches. We perform muscle injections into trigger points for tension headaches and may prescribe medication if the headache is acute or severe to provide fast relief. See our section on MiRx headache treatment for more stubborn or chronic headaches. We use an anesthetic to “spray” a nerve area in your nasal cavity to stop the cycle of chronic headaches. The procedure is fast, covered by most insurances, and highly effective.