When someone says, “I have a headache”, what are they really saying? It may be something like:
1. “My allergies are really bad today.”
2. “I think I may be getting a migraine.”
3. “I must be really toxic.”
4. “I really need an adjustment.”
People get headaches for a variety of reasons and the type of presentation can tell you a lot about how to treat it. Aspirin, or any of the other of the pain relievers on the market, may not be the answer. These over-the-counter medications, generally known as NSAIDs, can relieve pain and mask symptoms, but often do not solve the underlying problem. This leads to a recurring roller coaster ride, including times of painful aggravation followed by periods of relief.
So how do you interpret what your head pain is trying to tell you? Just like in real estate, it’s location, location, location.
Pain located above, around, behind or below the eyes is often associated with the sinuses. Sinuses are air cavities located in the cranial bones. The most commonly affected sinuses are the frontal sinuses, located in the forehead, above the eyes and the maxillary sinuses, located below the eyes, on either side of the nose. When pressure builds, due to infection or allergy, pain in the forehead or around the eyes can be intense. While NSAIDs can help relieve the pain, unless the underlying problem is resolved, the pain, pressure and stuffiness will return.
Migraine headaches usually occur in the temple area or behind the eyes. Migraine headaches usually occur unilaterally, meaning only on one side, but this is not always the case. Most migraines occur once or twice a month, but many people experience migraines daily. The triggers for these very intense headaches can be many and varied. They affect women more than men and are often associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. We have also found that food allergies are very often involved. Migraines are often accompanied by visual disturbances, auras and/or sensitivity to light or sound.
Cluster headaches are unilateral headaches, much like migraines, with much more extreme pain. They occur more prominently in men than women, but women report that the pain associated with cluster headaches is worse than childbirth. The intense pain of a cluster headache is usually located around the eye and include a teary, watery eye and stuffy nose. The reason they are called cluster headaches is that they can occur multiple times a day, for weeks at a time, and then spontaneously subside for weeks or months. It has been suggested that cluster headaches are vascular in nature and that swelling blood vessels, putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve is the cause. The pain of a cluster headache has been described as a red hot poker pushed into the eye or a spike shoved into the top of the head, behind the eye. It has also been characterized as the most painful condition known to medical science.
Liver headaches, or toxicity headaches are steady and dull. They are experienced at the top of the head and are sometimes accompanied by a metallic taste in the mouth. These headaches can be due to pesticides, herbicides, solvents, alcohol (hangover), etc. Detoxification is a must. Things that can help include a liver cleanse and flushing the system with large amounts of water.
Tension or Cervicogenic Headache
Cervicogenic headaches originate in the cervical spine, often at the base of the skull, or occiput. The pain of the cervicogenic headache is often intense and seems to spread from the base of the skull, up and over the top of the head. Chiropractors are particularly adept at treating this type of headache, which is usually caused by an alignment problem. These headaches often get better immediately after an adjustment and unless something happens to cause a recurrence, may be relieved for long periods of time.
If you suffer from headaches, including any of the types listed above, we may be able to help. We have the knowledge and experience to differentiate between the types that we have listed and can often offer the headache sufferer the means to eliminate or control the symptoms that are associated with them.