Next to back pain, headaches are the most common complaint that take people in to visit their doctor. There are several different categories or types of headaches. The good news is that most of these headaches can be resolved without long-term medication usage. Some of the most common types of headaches are the following:
Muscle tension headaches — These are often accompanied by neck tightness, particularly the upper trapezius muscles. These are often caused by fixation of one or more of the upper three cervical vertebra. The headaches are often in the back, front or temporal areas. It is interesting to note that the upper trapezius muscle receives nerve supply from cranial nerve 11 directly from the brain. In other words you “can think” this muscle into tightness. This is where many people carry their stress.
Migraine headaches — Many patients come and tell me that they have a migraine. To the average person, they equate a really “bad headache” as a migraine. Actually, a migraine headache is a type of vascular headache. It is a throbbing, pounding type headache (like a heartbeat). This is a condition where the blood vessels dilate and the blood vessels are engorged in the head. These headaches are usually unilateral (one-sided). These also can be triggered by problems in the upper cervical spine and neck, but many times they are triggered by reactions to foods, or hormonal imbalances during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The most common offending foods are provided on a list by our office to our migraine patients. Peanuts and chocolate are high on the list. Specific nutrients such as magnesium, B6, or the herb, feverfew, are sometimes helpful. I have treated many migraine headache patients through the years with great success..
Cluster headaches — Another type of vascular headache, but more rare compared to migraines. Men tend to have more cluster headaches than their counterparts. Women are more prone to migraines. Cluster headaches occur in frequency suggestive of their name. Patients suffering with this type headache may have one or several every day for weeks and then have none for months or years.
Sinus headaches — Usually above or below the eyes (where the sinuses are located). These headaches feel like a pressure/swelling sensation. They are often associated with nasal or ear congestion. Chronic sinusitis is often related to airborne allergies or digestive dysfunction. In acupuncture, the lung and the large intestine are intergenically intertwined. The nose is the beginning of the pathway for the lung. Many times the chronic sinusitis is a symptom of a lack of hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach or from constipation. Undigested protein and fats will cause excess phlegm production. Many people also have excess phlegm secondary to reaction or intolerance to dairy products or gluten.
Blood pressure headaches — These are headaches that you wake up with and are pressure-like in nature. They should be taken seriously. If you’re waking up with bad headaches and have no symptoms of significant neck pain or stiffness, see your doctor right away and get your blood pressure checked.
In the vast majority of cases of headaches, there is a solution. The treatment may include chiropractic, food allergy testing(if applicable), saliva hormone testing for women(if applicable), food avoidance, or appropriate nutritional supplementation.
If you are suffering from headaches, call today at 813-985-1322.