Headaches are often dismissed as a temporary inconvenience and for many of us, this is truly the case. We get a headache, pop a few painkillers and it disappears in a few hours. For others, however, headaches can be a chronic problem and have a huge impact on their lives.
Of course, if you have persistent headaches it’s important to see your GP and have yourself checked out as soon as possible. There can be several different reasons why you are getting regular bouts of pain and it’s not always associated with the specific location where that pain occurs.
Some headaches are caused by health issues which may not be readily apparent. We regularly see patients that get persistent problems which are related to stress, joint and posture issues, for example.
At our chiropractic and osteopathic clinic in Tunbridge Wells, we’ve been taking a closer look at headaches in general and how our experienced team may be able to help.
What is a Headache?
Almost everyone has had a headache at one time or another. These last from just 30 minutes up to several hours. In a narrow definition, it is simply a pain in the face or head but this can also include pain in the neck.
Our brains are not pain-sensitive. Most of the discomfort we feel comes from the skin and bone, eyes, ears, mouth and nose as well as the blood vessels that supply this area of the body.
What Causes Headaches?
The exact physiological mechanism for many kinds of headache is not that well understood. With a tension headache, discomfort is caused by problems like spasms in the neck muscles. Vascular headaches are more complicated and depend on the very complex relationship between the blood vessels that serve the brain and the nerves.
One of the most common reasons we see for persistent headaches are issues with posture. Especially for people who are employed in offices or who drive for a living, bad posture can lead to all sorts of issues. Stress can also cause as well as make headaches worse. This is certainly something that our chiropractor and the osteopathic team can help you with.
Types of Headache
We make the distinction between two types of headache.
- A primary headache is one that doesn’t have an underlying cause such as another health problem. This includes migraines and tension headaches.
- A secondary headache is usually a symptom of an underlying health problem. This can include a condition such as giant cell arteritis which affects the blood vessels in the neck, problems with high blood pressure and pain in the head following an injury such as concussion.
What is a Tension Headache?
This is by far the most common type of headache we see at our chiropractic and shockwave clinic. Its symptoms include a moderate pain throughout the head but which most often manifests across the forehead and the back of the head. It usually stands alone and doesn’t have any other symptoms associated with it.
This kind of pain is experienced by adults rather than children and can have several different causes from poor posture and stress to a bad diet and joint problems.
What is a Sinus Headache?
This produces a steady pain across the bridge of the nose and the face and cheeks. It is normally accompanied by a blocked feeling in the nose due to congestion. It’s the sort of problem that will affect people of all ages and those who have allergies are more susceptible.
This type of headache can also be seasonal and is usually controlled by medication.
What is a Migraine?
If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, you’ll know how severe it can be. The pain is persistent and sometimes accompanied by a sensitivity to light and sound. The pain can be more localised and symptoms may persist for days rather than just a few hours.
Migraines may be caused by emotional triggers and stress. They can also be the result of tension in the shoulders or neck, poor posture and lack of sleep.
Can Headaches Be Caused By Medication?
The short answer is yes. Many forms of medication cause headache-like symptoms. If you are being treated by your GP and find that you have started to develop headaches, then it’s important to go back to them for advice and guidance. It may be that swapping to another medication will resolve your symptoms.
5 Ways to Avoid Tension Headaches
Because they are the most common type, our team at Tunbridge Wells have put together a few simple tips for avoiding tension headaches in the first place:
- Stay hydrated: You are more likely to get a tension headache if you are dehydrated. The standard recommendation is normally 8 glasses of water a day but it’s simply a matter of topping things up during the day. Carrying a water bottle around with you and taking regular sips should suffice.
- Eat well: Our diet affects a lot in relation to personal health. Poor food choices such as having too much sugar in your diet can make a big difference. Opt for a balanced diet that delivers on all the right food groups and you’ll greatly reduce your potential for tension headaches and feel more energised at the same time.
- Exercise: Try to get 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week. This doesn’t have to be heavy-duty aerobics or weightlifting, you’ll get just as much benefit from a brisk walk or low impact exercise such as yoga.
- Get up and stretch: We spend a lot of time hunched over desks and computers or slouched on the couch. Bad posture is a leading cause of tension headaches. Get up every 30 minutes or so and give yourself a good stretch and be aware of your posture as you are sitting down.
- Learn to de-stress: We also lead pretty stressful lives so finding ways to relax is also important. This might mean having a meal with family, finding time for yourself or trying something like breath meditation to reduce the tension.
Can Our Tunbridge Wells Chiropractor Team Help?
If you suffer from problems such as tension headaches or migraines, our experienced and qualified chiropractic team will be able to assess and treat you at our comfortable clinic in Tunbridge Wells.
Contact us today to book an appointment.
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