By: Dr. Leah Lawson

Did you know that there are many different causes of headaches? Although most Canadians will experience at least one headache in their lifetime, the cause for each individual can be different. 

Different types of headaches:

  • Migraines
    • Thought to be caused by the release of inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head
    • Usually one sided, pulsating in nature
    • Can last hours to 2-3 days
    • Commonly associated with triggers (environmental, food, stress, etc).
Cupping on Upper Trapezius Fibres
  • Cluster 
    • Brief but extremely severe headache
    • Can occur several times a day (in “clusters”)
    • Usually focused around one eye, can be associated with tearing and redness of the eye, running or blocked nose on affected side
  • Tension
    • Occurs due to tension in the muscles of the neck/head
    • Can be caused by stress, injury, poor posture, eye strain, etc. 
    • Pain and pressure, described as achy or dull pain
    • Can be felt in temples, forehead, both sides of the head, and even at the base of the skull
    • One of the most common types of headaches
  • Cervicogenic
    • Headache that stems from the neck or spine structures
    • Worsens with neck movement
    • Usually one sided (can be both)
    • Pain starts at the base of the skull and spreads to the front of the head

How your chiropractor can help:

Chiropractors are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat many different types of headaches. They can also co-manage or refer to other health professionals for appropriate treatment. Treatment plans are customized for each individual, but may include:

Stretching
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Spinal manipulative therapy or mobilizations
  • Modalities (including acupuncture, tens, ultrasound, etc)
  • Patient education
  • Rehabilitation exercises and stretches
  • Lifestyle changes (hydration, removing food triggers)
  • Co-management or referral

Resources:

World Health Organization. Headache disorders. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders

Canadian Chiropractic Association. Headaches – Head and Neck. Retrieved from: https://www.chiropractic.ca/headaches/headaches/