Headaches and Chiropractic Care
What is a Headache?
A headache is pain that originates from the tissues and structures surrounding the brain. The brain itself has no nerves that result in the sensation of pain. Rather, the muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes and ears, as well as the meninges (membranes) that cover the surface of the brain, spinal cord, arteries, veins, and nerves can become inflamed or irritated, resulting in the pain of a headache. This pain can vary from a dull ache, to a sharp pain, or throbbing pain.
Types of Headaches and their Causes
Headaches can be classified into three categories:
1) Primary headaches
a. Tension headaches: These are the most common type of headache. Tension headaches, which occur more often in women, feel like a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially at the temples, back of the head and neck, or forehead. Not as severe as migraines, they don’t usually cause nausea or vomiting, and they rarely halt daily activities. The exact causes of tension headaches are not conclusively known, however, the most likely cause is contraction of the muscles that cover the skull. When the muscles covering the skull are stressed, they may become inflamed, go into spasm, and cause pain.
b. Migraine headache: These are the second most common type of headache. Migraines last between 4-72 hours, and can consist of moderate-to-severe pain, usually accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are sometimes foreshadowed by aura, such as visual distortions or hand numbness.
c. Cluster headaches: Cluster headaches, which affect more men than women, are very rare. They are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. They appear suddenly and are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face. The cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but there may be a genetic component. There is no cure, but medication can cut the frequency and duration.
2) Secondary headaches
a. Secondary headaches are due to an underlying structural problem in the head or neck, meaning another disorder is causing the headache. This is a very broad group of medical conditions ranging from dental pain from infected teeth to pain from an infected sinus, to life-threatening conditions like bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
3) Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches.
a. These types of headaches occur because the nerves in the head and upper neck become inflamed and become the source of the pain in the head. Facial pain and a variety of other causes for headache are included in this category. The most commonly recognized example is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects cranial nerve V (the trigeminal nerve) and can cause intense facial pain.
What can my Chiropractor do to help?
Here at the Madison Clinic North York, Dr. Michael Rodney can provide you with chiropractic care to help alleviate the symptoms of certain types headaches. If you suffer from headaches, Dr. Rodney will perform a spinal assessment to determine if the headache is being caused or aggravated by a misaligned vertebra in the spine (sublaxation), which may be creating undue nerve interference. If this is the case, chiropractic care will be of benefit. Chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments, may help improve and even prevent unnecessary tension and/or irritation in the neck and head, and can provide immediate relief of headaches.
The Madison Clinic North York also offers Physiotherapy, Registered Massage Therapy, and Naturopathic care (including Acupuncture), that can assist in treating your headaches.
Every headache sufferer differs and may require special instructions or recommendations for chiropractic care. If you have a concern about the headaches you are experiencing or your condition requires additional attention, please contact your medical doctor to ensure there is not an underlying problem.
Should you want to seek chiropractic care for your headaches or have any questions, please contact our clinic!
The Madison Sports Injury and Rehabilitation Clinic
4950 Yonge Street, Concourse Level, Unit 2