Posted by in Headaches

What are headaches and what causes them?

There are numerous types of headaches.  The most common kinds include:

  1. Tension:
    • Feels like a band of pressure around the head and can be caused by physical or emotional stress.
  2. Migraine:
    • Severe pain often described as pulsing or throbbing. Migraine headache symptoms include nausea and visual disturbances. Migraines can be triggered by physical stress, certain foods, emotional stress, hormonal fluctuations, lack of sleep, low water intake or nutritional imbalances.

There are other rare causes of migraine headaches, but in almost all cases, cervical (neck) facet joint restriction/dysfunction and muscle trigger points/tightness will be present. Therefore, it is important to address the cervical spine muscles and joints. It is also vital to avoid common triggers, such as caffeine, aged cheeses, chocolate, processed meats, red wine, MSG, artificial sweeteners and alcohol.

A truly comprehensive approach in treating headache pain should include the following:

  1. Adjustments or manipulation help reduce headache pain, restore normal joint motion and balance musculature.
  2. Muscle and soft tissue techniques to help reduce muscle tightness and pain and trigger points, particularly in the neck and upper back region.
  3. Specific “low tech” rehabilitation exercises and assisted stretches are recommended to improve posture and provide support and stability for the head and neck and prevent recurrence of headaches.
  4. Physiotherapy to reduce neck muscle trigger points, acute pain and inflammation.
  5. An anti-inflammatory diet with appropriate supplementation can help reduce headaches. The most common supplement used for headaches is magnesium.
  6. Postural assessment and determination of repetitive stress activities that cause neck strain, which can trigger headaches.