Headache Q & A
by Heather Brown, DC
What causes headaches?
There are two general classes of headache. Primary headaches are the condition, and these don’t result as symptoms of some other ailment, while secondary headaches happen because of another condition.
Primary headaches result from disorders of the pain-sensing systems in your head. This may be due to nerves or blood vessels around your skull, chemical activity in your brain, or tension or strain in the muscles and soft tissue of your head and neck. A combination of these factors may also cause pain.
Secondary headaches resulting from other conditions have a much wider range of causes. For example, secondary headaches may result from eye problems such as simple eye strain or complex conditions like glaucoma. Sinus problems are another common source, and of course, headaches can be symptoms of major medical issues such as brain tumors, meningitis, and post-concussion syndrome.
How are migraines different from regular headaches?
A type of primary headache, migraines have some substantial differences with other types of headaches, including intensity and duration. Affecting more than 35 million Americans, the pain of migraines is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
Along with these symptoms, migraines typically display up to four phases. Not all migraine patients experience all phases the same way. Usually, the phases include:
How does chiropractic care help with headaches?
Headaches originating from tension or poor spinal alignment are well suited to chiropractic care. Although results vary by patient, using chiropractic adjustment as a preventive treatment for migraines generally reduces the number and intensity of migraine episodes. Secondary headaches may benefit from chiropractic treatments, particularly if the underlying illness also benefits from spinal adjustment.