Headaches Headaches affect almost everyone at some point and they can present themselves in many different ways. Some people only experience pain in one part of their head or behind their eyes, some people experience a pounding sensation inside their head, and some people experience nausea, the pain itself may be moderate to severe and may last for anywhere from minutes to a few days. Fortunately, very few headaches have serious underlying causes, but those that do require medical attention. Headaches can be due to a wide variety of causes, such as drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tightness in the neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, the majority of recurrent headaches are of two types: tension headaches (also called cervicogenic headaches) and migraine headaches. There is a third type of headaches called a cluster headache that is a related to the migraine. These three types of headaches are listed below.
Tension type headaches affects upwards of 85% of people who suffer headaches. Most people describe a tension headache as a, persistent ache either on one side or both sides of the head, often described as a persistent or dull or a pounding ache around the head or behind the eyes. These headaches usually begin slowly and gradually and can last for minutes or days, and usually begin in the middle or towards the late evening. Tension headaches are often the result of stress or bad posture, which stresses the spine and muscles in the neck and upper back. Tension headaches, or stress headaches, may last for minutes to several days. In some cases, chronic tension headaches may persist for months. Although the pain can at times be severe, tension headaches are usually not associated with other symptoms, such as nausea, and dizziness. The most common cause of tension headaches is subluxations in the upper back and neck the upper neck, usually in combination with active trigger points. When the top cervical vertebrae lose their normal motion a small muscle called the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle goes into spasm. The problem is that this small muscle has a tendon which moves between the upper neck and the base of the skull and attaches to a pain sensitive tissue called the dura mater that covers the brain. Although the brain itself has no feeling, the dura mater is very sensitive to pain. Then consequently the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle goes into spasm and its tendon pulls at the dura mater, and a headache occurs. People who do mainly desk jobs will tend to suffer from headaches for this reason. Another cause of tension type headaches comes from referred pain from trigger points in the muscles of neck and upper back. These are much more common in people who suffer a whiplash injury due to the muscle damage in the neck. These are more common in people who have suffered whiplash injury due to muscle injury to the neck.
Migraine headaches, about 10% of people in the canada experience migraine headaches, about 70% are women. Migraines are intense and pounding headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last from a few hours to as long as a few days. Many of those who suffer from migraines experience visual symptoms called an "aura" just prior to an attack that is often described as seeing flashing lights or that everything takes on a dream-like state. Migraine sufferers usually have their first attack before age 25 and they tend to run in families, supporting the notion that there are genetic. Some people have attacks several times a month; others have one or two a year. Most people find that migraine attacks occur less frequent with age.
Migraine headaches are caused by a constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of blood vessels. During the constriction of the blood vessels there is a decrease in blood flow, which can lead to the visual symptoms that people do experience. People who don't experience the classic migraine aura, most of them know that an attack is immanent. Once the blood vessels dilate, there is a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. It is this increased pressure that leads to the pounding or throbbing headache. There are many theories about why the blood vessels constrict, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that there are a number of things that trigger migraines, such as lack of sleep, stress, flashing lights, strong odors, a change in weather patterns and foods; especially foods that are high in an amino acid called 'tyramine'.
Cluster headaches are short in duration, excruciating headaches, usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes or forehead. This is the only type of headache that tends to occur in the evening. The reason that they are called 'cluster' headaches is that they tend to occur up to 5 times per day over a period of several days. After one cluster of headaches is over, it may some while before they occur again. Like migraines, cluster headaches are likely to be related to a dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, causing a localized pressure to the brain. Chiropractic Treatment for headaches Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck. Each case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of chiropractic treatment can be determined. However, in most cases of tension headaches, significant improvement is accomplished through simple manipulation of the upper two cervical vertebrae, coupled with adjustments to the junction between the cervical and thoracic spine. Trigger Point Therapy for headaches Trigger point therapy for headaches involves four muscles: the Splenius muscles, the Suboccipitals, the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and the Trapezius. The Splenius muscles are comprised of two individual muscles – the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. Both of these muscles start from the upper back to either the base of the skull (splenius capitis) or the upper cervical vertebrae (splenius cervicis). Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common cause of headache pain that travels around the head to the back of the eyes, and may affect the top of the head. Suboccipitals are actually a group of four muscles that are responsible for maintaining the position and movement, between the first cervical vertebra and the base of the skull. Trigger points in these muscles can cause pain that feels like it’s inside the head, extending from the back of the head to the eyes and forehead. Often similar to that experienced with migraines. The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle runs from the base of the skull, just behind the ear, down the side of the neck to attach to the top of the sternum. Most people are not aware of the SCM trigger points their effects can be widespread, including referred pain, balance problems and visual disturbances. Referred pain patterns tend to be deep eye pain, headaches over the eye or forehead. Another characteristic of SCM trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea and inbalance, The trapezius muscle is the large, flat muscle in the upper and mid back. A trigger point located in the top of the Trapezius muscle refers pain to the temple and back of the head and can be responsible for headache pain. This trigger point is capable of producing satellite trigger points in the muscles in the temple or jaw, which can lead to severe jaw pain.
How We Treat Headaches Headaches is one of the most commonly treated conditions in our office. We take pride in the fact that have a high rate of success in improving and or completely getting rid of headaches that have not responded to other forms of treatment. Dr. Missaghi believes in classic chiropractic healing philosophy of therapeutic touch; this means that the primary type of treatment he prescribes are hands-on techniques. He uses a combination of deep tissue therapy, focal finger pressure points, joint mobilization and manipulation.