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Where are my headaches coming from?

Headaches can make your life more stressful and if you’re on your way to achieve health goals like losing weight or building strength, they can hinder or stop your progress without remorse.

Here, at Health space clinics we want to help you understand your headaches and what you can do to get you to a headache free day.

The reasons for headaches

There are different types of headache and many different causes, which explains why the
condition is so common. Most headaches have more than one contributing factor. Some of the more common triggers for headache are lifestyle related, such as poor diet, stress, muscle tension, and lack of exercise. Serious underlying disorders, such as brain tumours, are rarely the cause of headache, although persistent headache should always be investigated by a doctor.

Headache can be classified into two broad categories: primary and secondary. Examples of primary headache include cluster and tension headaches. Secondary headaches are triggered by an underlying disorder – such as infection, injury or a tumour – and are a side effect of the main illness.

How common are headaches

Headache is one of the most common health-related conditions in Australia, with around 15 per cent of us taking pain-relieving medication for a headache at any given time. It is likely that nearly all of us will experience headache during our lifetime. People of any age can be affected, but people between the ages of 25 and 44 years are more likely to report having a headache.

Pain receptors and headache?

Pain is felt when there is inflammation or irritation in various structures in or around your head. These include:

  • The muscles and skin of the head and neck
  • The nerves of the head and neck
  • The arteries leading to the brain
  • The membranes of the ears, nose and throat
  • Sinuses, which are the cavities inside your head that are part of your respiratory system

What are the most common causes of headaches?

Anything that causes the pain receptors in or around a person’s head and neck. These may include:

  • Stress
  • Muscle tension
  • Dental or Jaw problems
  • Infection
  • Diet
  • Eye problems
  • Hormones
  • Medication
  • Ear, nose or throat disorders
  • Nervous System Disorders
  • Injury to the structure of the head, neck or spine
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Poor posture
  • Hang overs caused by excessive drinking or drug use
  • Temperature extremes
  • Dehydration
  • Noise
  • Inflammation of the arteries
  • Arthritis
  • Meningitis

Headaches related to structure or mechanical conditions

Since the two main types Primary and secondary can be broken into subgroups of structure and mechanics and then Neurological and pathological. With some overlap between the two areas it is important to seek professional advice to best help resolve the issue at it’s root cause. (For example it would be of no help if the headache was caused by eye disorder and an attempt to correct it with some reduction in pain by pain killers or anti-inflammatories).

For Structure and mechanical conditions leading to headache such as Muscle tension, Stress related tension, Eye strain, Jaw conditions, Neck, spine and head injuries already repaired after the acute phase, but still causing pain and discomfort it is advisable to seek the advice of a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Kinesiologist and massage therapist.

Headaches related to neurological or pathological conditions

The choice here may not be so clear, with a multitude of possibilities it is often the first call for most people to refer to their local GP. For acute symptoms this may be all that is needed and often with a sympathetic practitionor that is inclined to look further you might find that they are will look a little deeper and find the cause of discomfort.

But if this is not the case for conditions that may be neurological, including stress that can’t be resolved, idiopathic muscle tension, Nervous system disorders, chronic systemic inflammation it may be necessary to look a little deeper. Again, the best course of action would be to seek the advice of a professional Chiropractor, physiotherapist or Kinesiologist. Alternatively, you may start with a Holistic GP, a Naturopath or Osteopath.

In any case if you suffer chronic long-term bouts of migraine or headaches your first step should be to not face this alone.

Treatment options for headaches

The best treatment options are the one that suits the individual client, with each person needing a specialised approach it is best to find the practitioner that is right for you. With the right diagnosis in hand you should have in place a treatment plan and a support plan for ongoing treatment so that once the pain is alleviated then we can do our best to not let it come back. This may include an exercise program or classes such as Pilates or yoga to help build the muscles in the core and other structures that may be causing misalignment and pain or flexibility in the body and mind to help deal with the tightening of muscles that often comes with poor posture or high levels of prolonged stress.

In all cases though the approach should be individual and tailored to meet not only your need to reduce the effect of pain caused by headaches, but also address the underlying cause of where the pain is coming from. Whether that be physiological, emotional or possibly both.

So what next?

If you suffer from headaches, migraines and have done so without relief for a long time make an appointment to see one of great practitioners here at Health Space Clinics. Our professional staff are always happy to help you find the best solution for your health needs.

Seek emergency care if you are experiencing a very severe headache that is accompanied by:

  • Confusion or trouble hearing or understanding speech
  • Fainting
  • High Fever (Greater than 39-40 Degrees Celsius)
  • Numbness, paralysis on one side of the body
  • Stiff Neck
  • Trouble Seeing, speaking or walking
  • Nausea or vomiting (if not related to hang over or flu)

References

Author: Michael Hall

Michael Hall is a Practicing Kinesiologist for Health Space Clinics Castle Hill, with many years in the health and fitness industry he also specialises in Life Coaching, Counselling and Mind Body medicine. As a Personal trainer and Fitness Instructor with over a decade of experience including sports nutrition, sports training and functional fitness expertise.

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