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Common types of headaches, their causes and what you can do about them!

February 8th, 2023 by
Category: Dr. Erin Conway Headaches

woman sitting at a desk with a hand pressed against her head

Headaches are generally characterised by pain in your head. The pain can be sharp, dull/achy, be on one or both sides of your head, front, back or sides of your skull, or all over. Sometimes with headaches, such as migraines, you can have associated symptoms that are related to the headache. These can include things like dizziness, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting.

Headaches are very common in both males and females of all ages. It is estimated that 4.9 million Australians experience migraines and up to seven million people suffer tension-type headaches (36% for men and 42% for women). Source – Headaches Australia

How can headaches affect other areas of your life?

Headaches can be fairly debilitating if you experience them on a recurring basis. Can you imagine having 1-2 per week? It would possibly cause you to feel fatigued, unmotivated and may also affect those around you if you are unable to participate in your usual work/activities/social events due to them.

What are the common types of headaches, their causes and associated symptoms?

There are four main types of headaches, including: 

1. Tension-type headaches

Tension-type headaches typically originate from tension in your neck and shoulders, and are sometimes affected by mental tension (stress, anxiety). This headache is often felt on both sides of your head, on your forehead, behind your eyes or in your temples. Usually there is a dull ache that may be accompanied by some throbbing. Manual therapies such as massage, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic may help with these headaches considering the musculoskeletal involvement, but implementing stress management techniques may help too.

2. Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by a mix-up of signals coming from your upper cervical nerves and your cranial nerves due to spinal misalignment in the upper two vertebrae in your neck. You usually feel this headache on one side under the base of your skull and might feel it wrapping around to behind one of your eyes or eyebrows. Chiropractic care plays a big role in treating these headaches as they are directly related to spinal misalignment.

3. Migraine

This headache typically requires a diagnosis from a neurologist but is usually characterised by pre-aural symptoms such as nausea/vomiting/visual disturbances (such as a blind spot in your vision), followed by headache pain. Depending on the severity, a migraine can render the sufferer quite unwell for up to 24-48 hrs and sometimes prescribed medication is necessary to help manage it.

4. Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are related to inflammation in your sinuses and is usually felt on both sides of your forehead, eyes and/or eyebrows. Usually felt by people who experience complications related to hayfever, people with a flu and/or people who suffer from sinusitis.

What you can do about your headaches?

Headaches are a fairly common phenomenon in humans and can range from mildly annoying to severely debilitating. Some types of headaches can be helped by things you do at home-such as managing stress and some can be helped by seeing a professional manual therapist such as a Chiropractor, Osteopath, Myotherapist (massage) or Physiotherapist. Some headaches, such as migraines need to be diagnosed by a specialist. 

For tips to PREVENT headaches, read our blog here 

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