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Common Conditions

Headaches

28/08/2020

Headaches are one of the most frequent complaints. Narrowly defined, a Headache is pain in the head or face, and sometimes also includes pain in the upper neck. The cause, duration and intensity of Headaches can vary according to whether they are Primary Headaches or Secondary Headaches. The most common Headaches are Primary Headaches.

A Primary Headache is not a symptom of an underlying illness. Instead, these headaches result from problems involving the structures of the head and neck. A Primary Headache may happen due to overactivity in specific areas of the brain, blood vessels, muscles, nerves or brain chemicals.

A Secondary Headache is a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain sensitive nerves of the head. Conditions such as Acute Sinusitis, Influenza or Dehydration, varying greatly in severity, may cause Secondary Headaches.

Tension Headaches are the most common type of Headaches among adults and teens. Tension Headaches are described as dull pain, tightness, or pressure around your forehead, or the back of your head and neck. They cause mild to moderate pain. There are two types of Tension Headaches namely Episodic Tension Headaches and Chronic Tension Headaches. These headaches normally last from 30 minutes to several hours. Severity can vary but these headaches rarely prevent day-to-day activities. The cause of tension headaches is ambiguous but stress, anxiety and depression are usual triggers. Other potential triggers include loud noise, skipped meals, eye strain, lack of exercise, bad posture, sleep disruption or dehydration.

Cervicogenic Headache is a chronic Headache that arises from the atlanto-occipital and upper cervical joints. A Cervicogenic Headache is a common cause of a chronic headache that is often misdiagnosed as migraines. It is actually rooted in the cervical spine (neck) or base of the skull region. They are caused by problems with the nerves, bones or muscles in the neck. Although pain may be felt in the head, it is usually a referred pain from another location in the body.

A Migraine Headache is a type of Headache that tends to recur and causes moderate to severe pain. The pain is often described as throbbing and usually begins on one side of the head. Migraine Headaches are worsened by physical activity, light, sound or movement. The pain typically last from four hours up to three days. You may be sensitive to light, sound, smell or experience nausea.

In general, Headaches can be associated with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, pain in the eyes when looking into bright lights (Photophobia), vertigo, tenderness of the scalp, and tight sensation in the head.

Treatment for Headaches are customisable depending on the type of Headache. Physical therapy, including soft tissue massage and gentle spinal manipulation, can help alleviate the pain in the head and neck. These techniques aim to reduce nerve irritation, decrease muscular tension, increase circulation in the tissues, correct alignment, and improve the mobility of the cervical spine. Rehabilitation recommendations such as exercises and nutrition will also be provided by your therapist to address usual triggers. If in doubt, seek professional advice.

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