Headaches are a common reason people come to my office. Up to 47% of the general population suffers from headaches (1). It can be generally defined as pain in the head or face, and sometimes also includes pain in the neck. It can feel sharp or dull or sometimes throbbing, (2) and can last anywhere from minutes or hours to days. (2) Although pain is the main feature of most headaches, some can have other symptoms including nausea, light or sound sensitivity, watery eyes, or changes in vision. (3) Each individual’s case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of care can be determined.
Headaches can be very stressful and frequently people are worried that there may be something more serious involved. One of the things that I emphasize in my practice is teaching moments. We always look to teach each patient something new about their body or symptoms in an effort to empower them, to make healthy integrations to their daily life. We teach many things you might be able to do at home to help find relief, and of course have a list of highly trained professionals that we refer to as needed. Things we teach you to do at home include specific stretches to target the tight muscles, recommend nutrients that you may be lacking and need supplementation for or recommend the foods they can be found in, specific pillows to sleep on or ways to place ice packs under your neck, and of course triggers you may have never considered that we can eliminate. Gluten and artificial sweeteners are huge triggers for headaches. (9) Lastly, imbalanced hormones are surprisingly common triggers for severe and frequent headaches as well. (9)
Knowledge is power! And tiny changes can go a long way.
Yours in health,
1. Page P. (2011). Cervicogenic headaches: an evidence-led approach to clinical management. International journal of sports physical therapy, 6(3), 254–266. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3201065/. 4 2. Headache Causes – Mayo Clinic. 2021. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800. 1
3. Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. (2018). Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 38(1), 1–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102417738202 8 4. Butler, Natalie. Is Gluten Triggering Your Migraines? (2020) Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/migraine/migraines-and-gluten. 9
5. Espí-López, G. V., & Gómez-Conesa, A. (2014). Efficacy of manual and manipulative therapy in the perception of pain and cervical motion in patients with tension-type headache: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 13(1), 4–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2014.01.004