Headaches are one of the top five reasons people seek care at my office. It is estimated that over 25% of the population is affected by headaches and they can be a major cause to days lost at work. The most common type is the tension headache, accounting for around 90% of all headaches. Chiropractic care is a great solution to those annoying tension headaches that are related to muscle and joint pain. Causes of tension headaches include lack of sleep, stress, muscular strain, and joint tension. Strain to your spine from prolonged sitting and screen time is also a common contributor. However your headaches might be caused by something other than your back and neck:
Medications can often be a cause of headaches. The unfortunate thing is a lot of medications used to treat headaches can actually be the cause of them. Anti-inflammatory, pain, and migraine medications all can cause a rebound headache effect. Rebound headache is a medication overuse headache that occurs when you use headache medications multiple times in a month and when you stop using them your body reacts with withdrawal symptoms. This can happen with both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Common examples include: Aspirin, Acetamenophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, sleeping pills, Codeine, medications that contain caffeine, and migraine medications that contain Triptans. If you are worried about having rebound headaches you should always consult your doctor before making any medication changes.
Many other medication can have side effects that cause headaches. It is very good practice to always research the side effects of every medication that you take and also talk to your pharmacist to see if there could be drug interactions when taking multiple medications.
We have all had a bad cold and felt the pressure from a head full of mucus. A true sinus infection has the following symptoms:
- often involves pain over the frontal sinuses above the eyes and over the cheek bones
- Pain occurs when applying pressure over these areas
-post nasal drip often causing coughing
-discolored nasal discharge (often green or bright yellow)
Sometimes sinusitis can linger after the cold symptoms disappear or the sinuses can be inflamed due to allergies. Frontal headaches from this can mimic tension headaches. to determine the difference, try the following:
-pain with pressure over the eyebrows, cheek bones, or the bridge of the nose means sinus pains, not tension headache.
-a headache that is provoked by bending forward looking at the ground means a possible sinus headache, not a tension headache.
-a headache that can be correlated with an allergy season (example rag weed season)
-headaches with post nasal drip can mean chronic sinusitis
Headaches can also come from your eyes. These headaches are usually better in the morning and worsen as the day progresses. The headache is located behind or around the eyes.
The American Migraine Foundation states that headaches from eye strain is largely rare and often overrated as a cause of headaches but it can be a cause. The majority of headaches caused by your eyes are related to dry eyes or an eye infection. Irritation of the cornea can be very painful if an object is scratching the eye but minor irritation from dry eyes can have a low grade response in the form of a headache. Headaches can also occur in rare cases of acute glaucoma.
If you notice you are having headaches after reading or prolonged use of a screen, you should visit your optometrist for a thorough examination.
We often don`t realize how little fluid we take in. We should all be drinking our 8 glasses of water a day but often we drink 2 glasses of water, 4 cups of coffee, and maybe a pop. This results in drinking fluids that dehydrate us more than helping us to keep hydrated. Add some exercise or a hot day and you are at risk of a headache from dehydration. Children and Elderly are most at risk for dehydration as well as people with kidney disease. Headaches from dehydration are usually located around the head and can be pounding or pulsating. They are different than sinus headaches as there is rarely facial pain. They are associated with other signs of dehydration including: a dry mouth, dark urine, decreased urination, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Often our job involves sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer or we have our head hanging down and our shoulders rolled forward on our devices. Sitting for long periods has a lot of negative health effects and can be a major cause of headaches. Poor posture leads to muscle fatigue and stiffness, causing tension headaches. Tension headaches are characterized as pressure over the forehead or at the back of the head. They are often described as a vice around the head. They are provoked by stress, sore muscles in the neck and upper back. Tension headaches are the third most common case in my office and can be helped with chiropractic care, massage and postural correction.
Upper body exercises that help to strengthen the muscles of the mid back and neck are essential is correcting posture. Often posture is a habitual thing. We create movement patterns over time that cause muscle groups to shorten in and some to lengthen and weaken. A Chiropractor is trained in correcting posture and helping people's spines be strong and moving optimally. Click here for great postural exercises
Activity Fact: 60%of all headaches come from tension type headaches. This means that over half of headaches can be helped with chiropractic care and getting active!