Types of headaches

Headaches can be grouped according to type, however they often have overlapping features.

Tension type headaches

This is the most common form of headache and is often found in people with stressful and sedentary life styles (office workers, students, high mileage car users etc).

Features: headaches that arise from the back of the head and can also be felt in the temples and over the eyes. Dizziness, nausea and sensitivity to light and sounds are sometimes felt.

Cervicogenic Headaches

This translates as ‘a headache arising from the neck’, and is usually associated with tight, stiff and sore neck and shoulder muscles. Cervicogenic headaches are a very common and often overlooked type of headache and respond fantastically well to chiropractic treatments.

Features: headaches that arise from the back of the head and can also be felt in the temples and over the eyes. Dizziness, nausea and sensitivity to light and sounds are sometimes felt.

Migraines

Migraines are debilitating for the sufferer. There are two types; classic with aura (visual disturbances) and common without aura, however they share many of the same triggers: stress, types of food or drink, hormonal changes, sleep disturbance and neck and shoulder tension. Chiropractic treatment is effective at helping with migraine prevention. 

Features: There are four parts:

  • A prodrome, or pre headache feelings that can include mood changes, neck stiffness, food cravings and fatigue.
  • The aura - this usually last less than an hour but can be frightening with symptoms including visual disturbances (spots, lines or lightening effects in the visual field), buzzing in the ears or partial loss of hearing, sensation loss and even partial paralysis. Some people experience this without progressing to a headache, which is known as a silent migraine.
  • The headache itself can be severe and very debilitating. Symptoms are usually felt on one side of the head but can shift to the other. Common features include sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, nausea and vomiting.
  • The postdrome or post headache hangover is a period (hours to days) after the headache where the sufferer can feel exhausted, confused and low in mood/depressed.

 

Cluster headaches

These are rare but excruciatingly painful. They occur in cluster periods, as the name suggests, where the sufferer can experience daily headaches often at the same time each day for many weeks.

Features: excruciating pain over the eye (usually one side only) often with tearing of the eye, and a runny nose. These headaches can last for 45 to 90 minutes.

Other types of headaches

There are an extremely large number of possible causes of headache or headache like pains. These include:

  • Painkiller headaches - headaches caused by medication, or the withdrawal of it – NHS Choices advise up to 1 in 10 people who have frequent headaches do so because they take painkillers too often
  • Headaches following trauma - these are common but seek medical advice immediately if they start to worsen or are accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Sinus pain headaches - these are usually associated with a recent or ongoing cold.
  • Eye strain headaches - these are usually self-evident to the sufferer.
  • Temporal arteritis – a headache around the temples that develops suddenly due to inflammation of the arteries in the region. Other symptoms include jaw pain and vision problems.

 


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