Your headaches and migraines may be caused by a variety of reasons. It is vital to the successful outcome of your chiropractic treatment, to find the underlying cause of your symptoms. Your headaches and migraines may as a result of an injury to any of the tissues of the head or neck, including muscles, nerves, joints, tendons, connective tissue or reduced blood supply. The area or spread of symptoms may involve the whole head or may only affect specific areas of the head. The symptoms may be constant or intermittent and may improve or worsen with motion or medication.
Common symptoms of headaches and migraines may include: pain, tightness, blurred vision, photophobia (dislike of light), phonophobia (dislike of sound) or nausea. These symptoms may range in intensity from mild to severe. Frequently, symptoms perceived in the head are actually referred from a problem in the neck.
There are many different ‘types’ of head pain / headaches. Such as:
· Tension headache
· Cluster headache
· Cervicogenic headache (from the neck)
Tension headaches are often described as a ‘tightness’ around both sides of
the head, but they may also be in specific areas of the head eg. the base of
the skull, over the side of the head or over (or behind) your eyes. The pain may course from your head down your
neck or vice versa, course from your neck into your head.
The pain levels are commonly mild to moderate (but can be severe) and can last from a short time to many days. Over-the-counter medication / painkillers are generally effective in giving quick relief from your symptoms. Do be careful not to take painkillers on a regular basis, as this in its self, may actually be the cause of your headaches, due to withdrawal effects of not taking painkillers on a daily basis. The ‘tension’ in your muscles that causes your headaches may be due to Trigger points (please refer to the full explanation below), poor posture, emotional or ‘other’ types of stress and / or eye strain.
Cluster headaches are very severe, but short-lived periods of pain, normally located behind one eye or forehead. They often come in ‘clusters’ of pain several times per day, with pain free periods in between. The period of symptoms may last any time from weeks to months.
Unlike other head pains, cluster headaches appear mostly in men and over-the-counter painkillers has little or no effect on the symptoms.
Migraines are moderate to severe pains, normally located to one side of the head. They are often classified as ‘common’ or ‘classic’ (with aura), with either one having different accompanying symptoms. Migraine symptoms are much more than ‘pain’. Sufferers also have multiple other symptoms that may include: nausea, slurred speech, aura, photophobia, phonophobia, throbbing pains, poor concentration and blurred vision.
It is thought that abnormal profusion of blood into the brain, due to altered neuro-transmitters (serotonin). This results in decreased blood flow to the brain initially, with a ‘reaction’ resulting in a flood of blood to the brain, causing expansion of the pain sensitive cortical arteries. There are many ‘triggers’ that may be a precursor to migraines. Some of which are: food / drink (commonly chocolate, cheese, alcohol, caffeine), stress, poor posture, bright or flashing lights, low fluid intake, excessive exercise, poor sleep etc.
If you have a long history of headaches or migraines, then help is at hand. If you are over 50 years and have only recently started with severe headaches, then please consult your GP.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome comes from the words ‘myo’ which means muscle, and ‘fascia’ which is the connective tissue that covers all muscles and organs of the body. You will have no doubt heard of a ‘knot’ in a muscle and most probably experienced some ‘tension’ in a muscle or group of muscles. Myofascial pain, often referred to as, 'trigger points', are points of hyper-tension (knot) within a band of muscle fibres. These trigger points can be either 'active' or latent'. Active trigger points often refer pain and symptoms to ares of the body, far away from the trigger point.
Active trigger points in the muscles of the upper shoulder, neck and sub-occipital muscles, may refer pain into the head, depending on where the trigger points are located. When these active trigger points are further stressed by poor posture, sustained contraction, cold / hot weather, then they may refer symptoms to their predictable site.
Latent trigger points do not refer symptoms but do cause local pain. These latent trigger points will evolve into active trigger points if left untreated and if the original stress continues. A diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation is required to de-activate these trigger points which will alleviate the symptoms.
It is absolutely paramount to your good health that the underlying causes of your headache symptoms are found and correct diagnosis is made. Dr Doherty will use his wealth of experience to achieve this and to make the appropriate management plan for you.
Please phone 0161 482 0786, to make your consultation and examination appointment or to make further enquiries.
The Family Chiropractic Clinic, 15 Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. SK8 5AF.
Chiropractor serving the people of Cheadle, Stockport, Manchester, Trafford and Tameside.