Migraine, Tension-Type and Cluster Headaches
Find out how structural body correction can help
Headaches – general background
Headaches are one of the most common complaints encountered in traditional and complementary healthcare. We at the Pain & Posture Wellness Centre see headache sufferers on a daily basis in both our Falkirk and Perth offices. Usually, they have tried everything else already before they come and see us. Mostly, their GPs are the first point of contact; some have been referred to specialist neurology practices – where headaches account for up to 25% of visits. Often our patients have tried everything from painkillers to neck stretches and other exercises to relaxation techniques and yoga to traditional chiropractic care or osteopathy, acupuncture, exclusion diets, herbal remedies, or vitamin supplements. And yet the pain is still there when they come to see us.
Strictly speaking, “headache” covers a broad spectrum of symptoms and conditions. Headaches are slightly more common in women than men; they affect all age groups, but are becoming increasingly common in children and teenagers. Acute and chronic headaches can severely impact quality of life. Because they are so common, headache conditions have a global economic impact (due to the number of sick/leave days taken by sufferers or their parents/caretakers) and cause increasing financial strain on healthcare systems. Headaches are often misdiagnosed and therefore not treated optimally. A careful analysis of symptoms is vital to determine the cause and to rule out more sinister underlying conditions.
The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD) divides headaches into primary and secondary types. Primary headaches are those for which no underlying cause can be determined via neurological examinations or special imaging. Secondary headaches result from an underlying condition and can be caused by tumours, aneurysms, spinal cord abnormalities, strokes, head trauma, inflammatory processes, adverse reactions to medications, or substance abuse. Primary headaches are further divided into
- Tension-type headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Other primary headaches
Migraines, tension-type and cluster headaches: symptoms
Typically, patients with migraines present with at least five attacks of the following:
- Duration 4-72hrs (in children, attacks can be as brief as 5mins; more typical are 1-72hrs)
- One-sided headaches on the forehead or temple; rarely around the back of the head; in children, the pain can be one-sided or on both sides
- Light or sound sensitivity, nausea, vomiting
- No known underlying condition
Tension-type headaches have the following symptoms:
At least ten episodes of the following:
- Duration of 30mins to 7 days
- Two or more of the following symptoms: pressure / tight sensation of mild to moderate intensity, both sides of the head, does not worsen on activity
- No vomiting or nausea, no light or sound sensitivity
Cluster headaches differ in the following ways:
- Almost always one-sided. Pain remains on the same side during an episode
- Very intense pain of a burning/piercing quality. Sufferers often pace around and cannot sit still during an attack
- Located behind one eye or in the eye region, without changing sides. The pain may radiate to the forehead, temple, nose or cheek on the affected side
- Duration is typically 30-90minutes but may be as short as 15mins to 3hrs. Often, several attacks occur in one day (typically, one to three attacks), with very regular intervals
- Not typically associated with nausea or vomiting
When patients come to our offices with headache complaints, we start by asking various questions about when the headaches started, what they feel like, where they are located in the head, how long an episode takes, and whether there is dizziness/nausea or light sensitivity. Depending on what our patients report, we carry out specific tests to see where the problem might be coming from, whether it is a neurological (nerve) problem that may need further investigation through specialist imaging or whether it is coming from a structural/mechanical problem in the spine – in which case there’s a pretty good chance we can help! We may also be able to advise when a nutritional deficiency may be the underlying cause.
Headaches and body structure / posture
Very often headaches are caused by structural or mechanical distortions in the bony structure of the body, mostly in the spine. Because this is such an incredible common cause of headaches, our colleague Dr Jeff Aberle made a brief video to explain this. Check out his website and look for the video on “Mechanical and Nutritional Causes of Headache”. We also have previous posts on how bones can move out of place in your body and how this may cause your muscles to tighten up. Generally speaking, if bones get moved in a “forward” direction, the body purposefully pulls other bones out of place in order to compensate for the original problem which it cannot fix by itself.
If a bone goes out “forward” in your spine, your entire body leans forward above that point, your neck sticks out in front of your body and your head looks down into the ground. Your brain wants your eyes to be level with the horizon however, so your body purposefully pulls other bones out of place to compensate and achieve this result. You pull your head back and the muscles needed to do this become tight and achy. Your neck may feel stiff too.
During this process, the nerve fibres that communicate pain to the brain may get stretched and misfire and thus miscommunicate information to the various pain centres in your brain. This is why you may feel pain around the eyes when the underlying problem is really elsewhere in your spine.
With Advanced Biostructural Correction™, we can reverse this process. We take care of the underlying problem, your body can start unwinding and healing, it can relax the tight muscles, reduce the stretching of the nerves, and very often you will find your headaches a thing of the past.
If you suffer from headaches, whether it be migraines, tension-types, clusters, or just the odd common headache, schedule a free consultation with one of our practitioners. We are here and ready to help so you can get your life back!
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